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~interview by Eric Rasmussen

If you listen to enough Scholomance, you’ll probably start to develop a twitch. This is really some crazy music, but somehow, it works. Maybe just because there’s a certain honesty behind it, or because the composers have some real aim with their work. Whatever it is, Scholomance is a name that will most likely become more prominent as they continue to release great albums. Looking to find out more about the band, I interviewed Scott Crinklaw. He handles guitars, keyboards, piano, and percussion. 

Eric:  It's really difficult to label Scholomance. The best description I can come up with is some unholy combination of Cynic, Arcturus, and Children of Bodom. And even that comparison doesn't begin to cover the different facets of your music. What bands and styles of music have influenced you? Is there anything else (non-musical) that has been inspirational? 

Scott: Our influences to play metal go back many years really. We've all been playing in bands for around 12 years or more. Early influences to start playing were Iron Maiden, Sabbath, Kiss, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, and old Metallica. Later we got into death metal when it started to come out and were always into the technical bands like Death, Athiest, Cynic, Obliveon, Supuration, Malevolent Creation, etc. Right now I'm listening to new stuff by Arch Enemy, Virulence, The Dillinger Escape Plan, As The Sun Sets, Cave In, Vortex, and Winds. We keep an open mind about what we listen to. We also listen to tons of Shrapnel bands and solo artists as well as Celtic music, classical, and a bit of alternative like Bjork and Tori Amos. Non-musical influences are actually the greater driving force behind me personally as I don't wish to sound like anyone else. Life influences us, people, social interaction, injustice, religion, hypocrisy, lies and truth, lust, love, and hate. Those are usually the things that bring out the most aggression in this band. 

Eric:  You do some of the best drum programming I've heard in metal. If it weren't for the technical aspect and precision of it, I might have never even noticed there wasn't a real drummer in the band. Are you interested in expanding on the programmed drumming, like with the more exotic sounding percussion in "The Next Step," or the industrial tinged intro of "The Psychology of Demons"? Or would you be more interested in using a real drummer in the future? 

Scott: I'd say the programming will continue to get more complicated. Technology is certainly not something I'm afraid of utilizing so I'll use everything at my disposable to get the desired sounds. I try to keep things somewhat realistic and driving while maintaining a level of technicality that fits into the grand scheme. We are currently looking for a drummer for the next cd. This is a long way down the road, but we're keeping our eyes and ears open for the right person. Obviously they'd have to be an accomplished drummer and to add to that, we gotta have someone with nearly flawless meter for the kind of stuff we write. It's possible this may not even happen as finding the right person for us is going to be a huge challenge. If we can't find anyone I'll continue to be the programmer as usual. 

Eric:  The keyboards play a much stronger role this time around. Especially on the second disc of The Immortality Murder, I really enjoyed the solo keyboard pieces. Do you and Jimmy Pitts split up the song writing pretty evenly? 

Scott: Yeah, it's close to evenly split. We don't really have an orthodox writing style. He writes much differently than I do so our parts are usually composed completely apart from one another. We try sometimes to co-write songs but it's difficult to get together enough with different schedules. He does all the electric shred keyboard solos though. I'm more of a piano player than a keyboardist. 

Eric:  As with the debut album, I'm really impressed with your guitar playing. There seems to be a much more powerful feel to the guitars this time around, and I noticed there is more rhythm oriented playing than on "A Treatise On Love" (hence my earlier Cynic comparison). Why did you decide to move away from the frequent wild soloing on your debut album? 

Scott: One major thing that we felt was wrong with the debut cd was that the guitars didn't sound strong enough. There were a lot of things that got buried on that album. If you hear those songs live, it's a whole different story. This time I wanted the guitars to be more up front and to have a much heavier feel. It seems like with a lot of technical music, the guitars just don't grab you by the throat so I wanted them out there strong. I wanted to try and get my live guitar sound as well, which we came really close to getting. I really enjoy soloing but this material just didn't warrant it as much as A Treatise On Love. The lyrics and riffs were so much darker and more ominous that a lot of solos may have taken away from that feel. My piano parts were also more challenging and so a balance was needed between the guitars and pianos too. I may well go crazy and do a lot of complicated solos on the next album! 

Eric:  What prompted you to include an all instrumental second disc with this release? Personally, I think it adds a lot to the value of the album. I listen to both discs equally.

Scott: Mainly for me, it was something I wanted to do for my family and some close friends. You can probably guess our parents and other family members wonder what the hell is up with the harsh vocals. So this is something they can listen to. We also were considering the progressive fans out there that couldn't handle the more aggressive vocals. We sort of have two different fan bases, those being the prog fans and the death & black metal fans. Then we decided to do the piano improvs to add something extra to the instrumental disc as Jimmy and I both really enjoy classical music on its own. We even left all the mistakes on the instrumental cd to give it more of a live feel. It all turned out pretty good and may be something we'll try out again in the future.

Eric:  Some parts of your lyrics sound very anti-Christian. Others make me wonder if perhaps you're questioning your beliefs or just exploring several avenues of thought. Can you offer some insight on what lyrical aims you have? Is the idea of religion being used as a metaphor, or is it a literal discussion?

Scott: Religion and spirituality play a huge role in our lyrics. While it's not still something I wish to debate all the time, we all still get rather irritated with religious beliefs in this country. I don't have a problem saying we're anti-christian, but I don't want people to get the idea we're pro-satanism or any of that nonsense either. We are absolutely not a satanic band. We tend to pick apart the flaws of all organized religion as a whole. You could say we're just for free thinking and strength in the individual, which is a rare thing these days. It can get very literal but it's also metaphorical in many instances. Religion plays a part in the first four songs on this album in that it is something the character in the lyrics is strugging with, and something that's driving him further into madness. I got to incorporate some of my own beliefs into the lyrics while also trying to pen things as this character would experience and perceive them. When our new website is done, you'll be able to understand some parts a bit better as there will be some additions and clarifications to the lyrics. With the other songs that aren't part of the concept, you'll be able to find more literal interpretations of religion within the lines themselves. We don't have any real aims with what we say. We write what we feel and we add them to the songs as they fit. 

Eric:  This is a bit of an aside - but one of my friends is still twitching after having heard one of your tracks (in a good way, that is). The complexity and technical aspect can be disorienting at times, at least on the first few listens. This definitely helps to make a more extreme statement than otherwise possible. How do you think that aspect of the music fits with the lyrical message and cover art?

Scott: We don't mind disorienting people at all! We like music that takes a while to figure out - the stuff that you can keep finding new things in months after you get it. It's difficult to find music like that. I haven't really had that experience as a listener since Gorguts "Obscura" came out. Our new cd is really quite heavy but it also ended up very complex, so it's extreme in several ways at once. With technical music like ours, it would be silly to have simplistic music and artwork. The lyrics and artwork have to be in the same league. Luckily that comes naturally for us. The lyrics for The Immortality Murder and the artwork are made to feed off one another. I spent a lot of time working on the layout and getting everything to look as it should. My other passions include drawing, painting, and digital art so I of course wanted everything close to perfect as I could get it. Overall, the entire cd is a very complex puzzle, and there are more pieces coming! 

Eric:  Are you working on or planning any side projects? I really enjoyed the more atmospheric and electronic/industrial tinged moments from the debut (mainly in "The Psychology of Demons..." and use of samples), it'd be neat to see you expand on those sounds. They seem to have less of a place with what might follow The Immortality Murder.

Scott: Actually I think you might enjoy our first promo demo tape. It's got an industrial edge that is much more focused on the keyboards and electronics. It's a very cold sounding release and I am still proud of it. We've come a million miles since then, but to me it stands on its own and completely captured what we wanted to do at that time. As far as side projects, we don't really have anything that we plan on releasing in a major way right now. Jimmy worked with Ron Jarzombek of Spastic Ink for his next album as you may know. Personally I've wanted to do something more guitar oriented on the side, minus the keyboards and a bit more rhythm based - still technical, but more in the vein of stuff like The Dillinger Escape Plan or Cave In. I'm really into samples as I'm a big movie and film buff. We ended up not using any on The Immortality Murder since the vocals turned out so good, but we may use them again someday if there's a place for them. There's always cool stuff to find a use for, or we may create our own cinematic enhancements. 

Eric:  Your debut sure demanded attention. In comparison, the new release is a lot more organized and thoughtful, there seems to be a greater emphasis on the songwriting. What direction are you headed with the sound now?

Scott: Actually we kind of feel the songs on the debut are better written, whereas the new material is crazier and more disjointed than ever, but it's nice to know people can get into the flow of the new songs. I'm not sure where the new material will go. You can bet it's still going to be technical as hell and always heavy. I expect the guitar riffs to get somewhat weirder and probably more disharmonic. I'm messing with some odd tunings lately. We also plan to make the next album a full concept piece as our two cds so far are just partial concept albums. I've got a lot of ideas for the concept and it will likely be something very interesting indeed. 

Eric: Any final thoughts you want to share with your listeners? 

Scott: I just want to encourage people to give us a shot and check out our cds. If any musicians in technical bands are reading and wanna swap cds, drop me a line too as I love to trade. We like to hear from our existing fans too and try to keep in touch with everyone. Thanks for this interview to you Eric! 

Eric: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, and best of luck with your music!

Scott (guitars, keys, percussion) -
Jimmy (vocals, keys) - (new Flash site) (currently being rebuilt)

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