The recording was a really long process, close to 3 years, and that took a lot of time that'd be spent writing and practicing, but we still played some shows in the meantime, and have continued to write and practice. We're currently working on a couple EP's with a narrower focus on each one, as well as some more general writing for the 3rd album.
2.In April you have a new album coming out, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
While the first album had a relatively narrow focus of European Power Metal with a dash of prog influence, Meridiem is much more full and composed. Not only does it embrace a lot of prog elements (and some black and doom metal elements); but it's just sonically bigger. Lots more synths, multiple guest musicians, heavily layered vocals, and all the extra experience our producer/engineer Sacha has had come to bear on this album. I believe Witness was over 250 tracks by completion.
3.The band started out with more of a power metal style but on the new album mixed in some symphonic black metal influences, what was the decision behind going into this direction?
The previous album had much less influence from Chris since it was mostly written by the time he came on, and he didn't directly write much of the music. Chris's more direct influence on the new album brought with it more doomy, neo-classical, and black metal influences. Additionally; Erich dabbles in this realm so it's an easy sell. It was a semi-conscious decision, inspired by bands like Forefather, Ancient Rites, and Caladan Brood who all have hints of a power metal / black metal hybrid, it became a fun challenge to combine them together with a heavier emphasis on the cleaner parts. It's a relatively rare combination which is surprising, as they actually combine incredibly well. There were quite a few times when we'd come up with an intense riff and Chris would be like "Oh man, I gotta blast over this and we'll have some big choral vocals!" One of the songs Chris took the lead on, Across the Ancient Desert, was very much intentionally putting the black metal aspect front and center as he was experimenting a bit with just how much he could get away with.
4.While you have some black metal elements you also keep your vocals all in a clean style, are you open to experimenting with some harsh vocals or do you prefer to keep the traditional power metal style?
A lot of material for future albums has already been created, and I don't think any of it has a hint of such vocals. I wouldn't close the door entirely on it if it was thematically appropriate for a song, but I have a distinct feeling it won't come up for a while. Though in line with the black metal influence a bit, I do see us drifting a bit more towards the kind of low-choral vocals you'd hear in Caladan Brood and occasional Summoning song as the soaring resonance of that style is beautiful over fast aggressive music.
5.Your lyrics also cover a lot of science fiction and fantasy themes, can you tell us a little bit more about your interests in those subjects?
I think everyone but Josh is some form of a nerd if I'm frank. Erich is into all kinds of gaming including 40k and Magic The Gathering; Steve is into a lot of video games, Star Trek and anything involving the concept of time, Tom is a big Board-game and book/science guy who is big into Star Trek; and Chris on top of being a Malazan fanboy and total weeb I'm not sure there's a nerdy thing he would avoid. For the most part though future references to these subjects will still be using it as a conduit for whatever the message of the song is; it's about capturing and delivering the feeling of the story to the listener rather than saying "Hey, we like that thing that you like!"
6.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Tanagra'?
The first major song of the band (never released, has been torn apart, maybe rehashed in the future) was a very long epic called "At Tanagra"; a reference to a Star Trek episode: Darmok (Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra is the classic phrase). When stewing on possible names for some number of weeks, Scott mentioned Tanagra as a name; and it stuck... Steven once described the meaning: The particular episode, Darmok, which has a theme of coming together to work towards a common goal and working together to create new experiences that exist as a metaphor in history for the future to build upon, and as a band, we try and take in multiple influences to create something new out of, and the name was a reflection of that.
7.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the album cover?
We once again had the pleasure of working with the incredible Gary Tonge, who did the panoramic cover art of our first album as well. This time the process was a little different; rather than Tom describing a specific composition, he just gave Gary some ideas about what kind of atmosphere the new cover should have and listed some elements that should be included. What followed was several weeks of discussions and refinements that resulted in the cover art you see now. We made a conscious choice to go with a completely different color palette compared to the first album and wanted the atmosphere of the cover to reflect the undercurrent of drama and melancholy that permeates this album. The artwork aims to illustrate the album's overarching theme of transition-- A long journey has been made, but there's still a long way to go. The distant temple represents dreams yet unrealized, with many different paths leading there. The album's name means "midday" in Latin. Conceptually, this represents a crucial pivot point in the band's journey, which we feel this album is. Our first album's art depicted a sunrise; this time the sun is high in the sky. There are several significant numbers present in the artwork as well: The two massive columns (this is our second album), the five spires of the temple (five members in the band), the seven monuments in the sky (seven songs on the album), and nine paths through the valley (this one is a bit of a musical joke-- part of what gives this album its overall vibe is the repeated use of ninth chords). Each of these numbers has other significance as well (for example, a total of seven people have been in the band at this point, it's been nine years between the start of the band and the release of this album, and two original members on this album aren't coming back).
8.So far there has been a 4 year gap in between the 2 full lengths and demo you have released so far, can you tell us a little bit more about it?
Both records took substantially longer to finish than expected. One aspect of Meridiem's delay was an injury that occurred to Tom's voice during tracking a particularly difficult part for us baritones. I don't think the full details are necessary, but it caused a substantial 8-10 month delay. This album also underwent a lot of "debugging"; where we rehashed sections, re-performed parts, rewrote parts, etc. The album definitely ran away from us a little bit. We consistently had this idea of "bigger and more epic" every step of the way so we were always wanting to add more. For example, we decided to have 2 songs with heavy orchestral influence. Well, then the other 5 would feel a little bare, so we decided to write some basic backings to those, but then that quickly turned in to every song have a ton of backings, and then that gave birth to some beautiful melodies where we decided to bring in live musicians. Or at times we'd have an amazing vocal melody and decide "you know what, now we need a 5 part harmony behind that." Things like that happened in every song, and while it really drew the recording process out, the end result is that every song has a huge amount of effort and focus and refinement put into it. Chris always described it like "I've always wanted to do a crazily huge over-produced album, this is awesome!"
Finally, there was a substantial delay in figuring out the logistics of the majority of the cost of the album. Once we made some decisions regarding that we started plotting a lot more points on the calendar to get things done.
9.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
The first show was amazing; since the crowd was rather larger than expected due to Josh's local popularity and the intrigue of this new project. There was a particularly good show downtown in a venue called Slabtown ( that no longer exists) but it was packed, we covered a Blind Guardian song, the crowd was happy, we had an encore we weren't prepared for. The encore ended up being like 20 minutes and the crowd just kept wanting more, it was a good time, but our poor drummer just wanted a beer after that, power metal's tiring. Playing at the first Hyperspace show (in Vancouver BC) was pretty sweet, if nothing else because it was a decent venue and crowd; and they were mostly new ears. The Blaze Bayley show also went well.
Our stage performance is largely focused around delivering a truly accurate rendition of the songs you hear (which can be quite difficult with the parts we write haha) and usually shows some new material that is a year or two out (or more!). We have our drummer plugged into a click track so we can have all of the backing symphonic and synth elements included in our show over the PA as well. It makes for a pretty huge full sound, and if with a good lighting guy and a fog machine, it's quite the experience and not something you usually see/hear live. We try to write many of the choruses or parts to have sing-along style crowd engagement; much like many European power metal bands (such as Blind Guardian.) We want you to have a good time and we want you to hear what you came for. If you want to hear new material you'll be ahead of the curve if you can see us live!
10.Do you have any touring or show plans once the new album is released?
Probably not at the moment; but were the album successful enough we could maybe pull it off. It'd definitely be fun to get out there, but as always, things like real life and money get in the way, and this album was quite expensive, so we're trying to catch up with ourselves in affordable ways. Ideas are hatching about how to move forward optimally, but first things first, gotta finish getting this album out there!
11.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
There is a bit of a mixed sentiment on being signed in the band. It's a bit of a tricky proposition these days with how many good tools are out there for self-promotion and how even most signed bands have to pay for their own tours and make most of their money from merch anyways. We're open to hearing all offers though, and we'll shop this album around and see what happens but if there's not a good offer our lawyer signs off on we'll continue being self-funded and self-released.
12.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of metal?
Even on the last album, we had random orders all over the world, from the coldest parts of Russia to Europe, to South America, to Japan, to Polynesia; etc. We've had a nice response in Germany, Canada, the UK, and Denmark in particular, but I think we've mailed CDs to over 20 countries!
13.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
I think we're going to play around with some more focused concepts (both lyrically and audibly) on an EP level. Erich's working on some Bolt Thrower sounding stuff, Chris is working on a 4-part epic based upon a certain character in the Malazan book Memories of Ice that will sound more like Summoning or Caladan Brood, and Steven's working on something that's a bit closer to None of This is Real. Our next full length will most likely be a natural progression from Meridiem though. We're all really happy with the sound on that and want to build upon it as our "main" sound, but we still are having fun dabbling in other soundscapes as well.
One major thing is integrating the vocals earlier in the writing process which has been something we've struggled with getting figured out on the released material. The hope is that they fill more of an instrument's role; and another hope is that it helps with the "debugging" mentioned earlier; that the album will be much more complete before heading into the studio.
14.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Erich listens to a lot more symphonic black metal, atmospheric stuff, and dark/synthwave than before; but still runs the gambit from Dio to Melechesh. Chris primarily listens to atmospheric black metal, funeral doom, and uplifting trance as his 3 favorite genres that primarily inspire his writing (we actually have a full-on trance build-up and bass drop on Meridiem if you listen for it!). Steven's always had a knack for video game music (Megaman, Chrono Trigger, etc) and later found Iron Maiden to be his biggest influence both musically and as a model of how a band should be. Nowadays he also listens to synthwave and prog.
15.What are some of your non musical interests?
Erich plays a lot of games, paints models, runs D&D sometimes, gardens, hosts BBQs.
Chris is an anime web and video game shut-in, mostly playing Final Fantasy XIV at the moment with some Monster Hunter World on the side. Also on my re-read of Malazan: Book of the Fallen.
Steven plays old video games and goes to Magfest, a video game music festival held once a year to hang with his internet family theshizz.org/fourm.
Tom is currently surviving under a heavy school workload but likes to spend time reading.
Erich and Chris are also both software engineers professionally and dabble in hobby programming from time to time.
16.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
There's lots more to come and the next era of Tanagra already has a lot of cool stuff ready to go. We'd like to thank all of the fans who were patient with us recording this album through the delays (Meridiem! Dropping Feb. 2016!), yourselves for the interview, and your readers for making it this far. It's hard to put in words how excited we are for people to hear this album, we've put a lot of heart and soul into it and unleashing to the world is a huge moment for all of us. We hope everyone enjoys it!