For all of you pedants out there, Periphery's brand-new album is not called Periphery II, despite what it says on the CD cover. As guitarist Misha Mansoor explains,"Yes, it's Periphery II, but in the booklet it actually reads, ‘Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal.’
And there's a proper way to say it, too. "You have to do it in that movie voice," Mansoor says, adopting a darkly sinister tone. "'Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal.’ You have to imagine that you're pointing a gun at your arch nemesis. It's all in the attitude."
Weighing in on the elongated title, drummer Matt Halpern laughs and says, "The guys in the band are just goofballs. We like to give our songs funny titles, too. It's all in keeping with who we are."
Since they released their self-titled debut in 2010, the Maryland-based Periphery have attracted a lot of attention in progressive rock circles, and just as quickly, they've gone through some personnel changes, as well. Bassist Tom Murphy and guitarist Alex Bois have split, and the current lineup consists of singer Spencer Sotelo, guitarist Jake Bowen, guitarist Mark Holcomb, Mansoor and Halpern. (Adam "Nolly" Getgood is playing bass on tour but isn't a ful-time member.)
Although the band are viewed as pioneers of the 'djent' movement, Mansoor (who has become widely praised for his impressive guitar abilities) says that when it came time to record Periphery II, he put all such accolades out of his head. “I didn't think about any of that stuff, especially as far as I'm concerned," he says. "I’m not really a virtuoso; I have no aspirations of being a virtuoso. I know my limits. I care more about the songwriting and arranging. I’ve pushed myself in those areas, and hopefully I've stepped it up on the new album.”
Whereas the first record was essentially borne out of Mansoor's demos, this time around the band adopted a collaborative ethos. “The idea was for the whole group to have a lot more input, to present a complete picture of the band," says Halpern. "The first album was kind of thrown together. This one was us going, ‘Fuck everything. We’re going to take our time and do it right.’
“I think it defines us," he continues. "We’ve come into our own sound, at least for now. We’re going to keep growing and changing, but right now this album will show you exactly where we are. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.”
On the following pages, Misha Mansoor and Matt Halpern talk us through Periphery II - wait, we're sorry, Periphery II: This Time It's Personal - track-by-track. The album is out now on Sumerian Records.