Listening to Inter Arma’s records, you might get the idea that what they do is highly conceptualized. The songs are epic, there are intros and interludes, and the music bursts through the confines of genre. As drummer T.J. Childers explains, it’s not nearly as concept-oriented as it seems.
“I kind of hate the phrase ‘writing a record,’” Childers tells Connect ahead of the band’s headlining set at AURA Fest’s Underground Weekend on Fri., Feb. 21.
“It’s more of an organic process of writing songs. Riffs come, song ideas come, while we’re at home or on tour. As we’re in the studio, we start thinking about the flow of the record. The intros and interludes are sometimes written in the studio for the purpose of creating more flow for the record. There’s never really any concept going into it. It just sort of takes shape.”
The band’s latest album, Sulphur English, was perhaps the only project that employed any kind of concept at all—though the drummer says it was a loose one.
“The idea was to be as ugly and abrasive as possible,” he says.
The brilliance of Inter Arma’s stylistic bend within the scope of extreme music is that it truly is an organic thing. Even when it came to forming the band, there were no preconceived notions about what kind of band it would be. The simple idea was to write and record music that they were excited about.
“There definitely was no preconceived idea in the beginning. It was just a bunch of dudes who hung out and drank beer,” he says.
“It was also kind of born from the ashes of another band, but it took us a couple of years to even get to where we were on our first record. We actually started out being a lot thrashier, and then we kind of realized that everyone was doing that. Metallica and Slayer kind of cornered the market on that. So we decided to get away from that a little bit.”
The Richmond, Virginia-based band wanted to be open in their approach to writing—being open-minded about writing slower songs (and even acoustic-based compositions) rather than focusing entirely on fast-paced ones that might box them in creatively.
“For the most part, I don’t really want to listen to a record that’s a million miles per hour the whole way, or one mile per hour the whole way,” Childers says. “I like dynamics and things of that nature. Most of the records that I listen to the most, like Beatles records or Led Zeppelin records, there’s acoustic songs and heavy rockers. To me, if you get four or five guys on the album playing instruments, it’s still going to sound like the same band.”