See Thomas Howl / Dead Again + Interview
Friday, March 16th saw the release of one of the strongest, boldest, and downright listenable albums of 2018. Dead Again, the latest work from See Thomas Howl, is set to take its place with the best the scene has to offer, and that's a big deal. Don't just take my word for it...hit PLAY on the embedded music player and check out the what he's got going on over at Bandcamp. See what I mean?
Having had the chance to spend some time with the album ahead of its release, I can tell you that See Thomas Howl isn't interested in coloring within the lines. Dead Again has the framework of a synthwave album, but that's where the similarities with anything you've heard before end. I can hear influences from across the entire musical spectrum in this music, and trying to pin it to any one sound is nigh impossible. There are flavors of new wave, synthpop, hip hop, EBM, 90's techno, and it's all pulled together in a giant progressive mixing pot. Honestly, it's best that you experience it for yourself because words don't do Dead Again justice...not by a long shot. The short version of the paragraph above would read something like this: Dead Again is a must own, must hear, and must experience masterwork of progressive synth based music. Period.
I think it's fair to say that 2018 has had its fair share of absolutely brilliant records so far, but when I say Dead Again belongs with the best work out there, I mean exactly that. Why? It's tough to surprise me. See Thomas Howl has not only managed to shock me with the quality of work he's brought forward with Dead Again, he's reminded me why I enjoy my job so much. He's reminded me that there are still flickers of magic out there, and being able to share magic like this is a pure joy. I've got three closing words:
Buy. This. Album.
Alright, now that I've primed the pump and have you ready to jump on Dead Again, how about we talk to the man behind a future Synthy Nominee for Synthwave Album of the Year, See Thomas Howl!
Welcome and thanks for talking to Echosynthetic! Anything you’d like to say to any new See Thomas Howl listeners out there?
Well, thank you. Let me just say first, what an honor it is to be interviewed by you. I'm a huge fan and love the passion and excitement that you have for the SynthWave scene. By the way, congratulations to you for the success of the First Echosynthetic Fest and the rest of the gang for the documentary 'Connected'. I watched it on Amazon Prime and it's very well done! Everyone involved should be super proud. It must be surreal for you, I mean, to see a 'Synthwave Doc' on Amazon. Who would've thought? Am I right?
Your new album is set to launch on March 22nd! What’s the story behind Dead Again?
There is a story behind 'Dead Again' as with all of my songs. I like to write short, SciFi/Horror stories then compose a "mini soundtrack" for each story. This is the part that will probably frustrate people... I don't like to tell anyone what the stories are about. Sorry! I am so sorry. I know that's no fun, but I like to keep that part of the creative process to myself. I also like the listeners to use their imagination and maybe come up with their own ideas of what each song might be about.
That has to be some of the best album artwork I’ve seen this year! Who did the work for you?
Oh wow, thanks. Yeah, so there will be 3 pieces of artwork associated with 'Dead Again'. The album cover was done by a friend of mine, Houliou Isgresious. He's kind of a funny, loner type guy, who can be sometimes be hard to track down. Hahaha. He's a very eccentric but creative person. I shared with him the concept and he went on from there. The second piece was created by Luis Colindres for the track 'Robots Executed'. Luis is insanely talented and great to work with. He created the cover artwork for Rezz's album 'Mass Manipulation' He also did a comic book for her as well. I believe he also did some work involving the TV show 'Rick and Morty'. The third piece is by the very talented Jack Bubinski. It will be the artwork for the song 'Hard Candy'. This was an already created piece that I found and really loved. I contacted Jack and asked him for permission to use it for the album and he was gracious enough to oblige. Art and music go hand in hand, if you ask me. I sometimes use it to create musical ideas, as in the case of 'Hard Candy'.
What’s your recording setup?
So my recording set up. I use a Macbook Pro that's dedicated for music only. My DAW of choice is Ableton Live. I use a Focusrite Clarett 4Pre Audio Interface with white KRK Rokit 5 monitors. I love the look of the whites. Now for the good part, the Synths. I prefer, as many do, to play analogue Synths. The problem with that is; it can get quite expensive to try and add all those classic, retro pieces to your collection. Not to mention that many of them are rare and hard to find. So that's why it makes sense, at least to me, to use the VST versions. An example would be the Oberheim Matrix-12. A thick, beautiful sounding, classic 80's synth. Hard to find and if you do get lucky enough to find one, it'll cost you an arm or a leg....or both! Other synths I like to use are the Arp 2600, the MoPho and TETR4 by Dave Smith Instruments, The MiniNova and Bass Station Synths by Novation, The Sylenth1 VST and the almighty Serum by Xfer.
What is your musical background?
I started playing guitar when I was 12. I really wanted to play drums but my parents weren't crazy about the noise factor. I secretly bought a pair of drumsticks, went to my room and set up 4 pillows on my bed. One for the snare drum, 2 for the rack toms and 1 for the floor tom. I would turn on my strobe light and put Motorhead and Kiss records on and beat the hell out of those pillows for hours. I did this everyday for like 4 months until my dad came up to my room one day and said 'Hey, if you want to play drums you can.' hahaha, I was thrilled. I took lessons from different instructors and played drums for years in various Rock and Heavy Metal bands. I was very passionate about learning and decided to attend Musicians Institute of Technology in Hollywood Ca. for Drums and Percussion. I Graduated and returned to the Philly Area and started teaching in local music stores. It wasn't until years later that I caught the Synth Bug. I was out of the loop for a while and when I peeked my head back into the world of music I was blown away to see how technology had taken home recording to a galaxy far, far away. I took some online, Music Production classes from Berklee College of Music to help me wrap my brain around DAW's and VST's. I mean c'mon, Virtual Instruments? An entire studio in my Laptop? Any drum sound from any drum set in the world that i wanted? It's still crazy to me. I can't believe what you can do with a home recording studio.
Top 3 albums of all time?
Oh wow, that's impossible.That's just impossible.... Ok I'll try. U2-Live Under A Blood Red Sky, The Cure-Disintegration, Tangerine Dream-Optical Race. Man, it's just not fair to only pick three
What do you do when you aren’t writing music?
Well, I love listening to music as much as possible and I try my best to be a good husband to my beautiful wife and a good father to my wonderful children. Oh yeah and I work.
Any parting words?
Thank you so much for this opportunity! I'm such a fan boy of this Genre'. There are so many talented SynthWave, SynthPop, RetroWave and DarkSynth producers out there. You are all amazing and inspiring. I just wanted to say keep it up! SeeYa Round!