Written by James Courtney / Listen to ‘WATCHERS’ out now exclusively on TIMEWHEEL.NET
Something Fiction, helmed by TIMEWHEEL founding members Matt Humble and Raul Rodriguez III, is one of the most talented (and illusive) bands in San Antonio. Over the course of the last ten years, the three-piece, which also features Nick Greder as drummer and rhythm advisor (gotta love that heroic title), has slowly brewed up a thick, heady, psychedelic, and truly unique electro-acoustic sound for itself.
The group’s recorded output to date is small but brilliant: 2011’s excellent Botany EP, 2013’s Mycology EP, and, some of the band’s most tantalizingly complete and ruminative work to date, 2014’s Trees in the Dark single. While the instrumental “Trees in the Dark” is a refreshing and ambient track—featuring maze-like guitar work and ceremonial-sounding synth doodling—that feels exactly like wandering through a dark forest in soft rainfall, B-side “The Healer” is a longer track that slowly teases the listener into a trance-like state, allowing them to ponder the central concept of the song’s lyrical content: the unity of all life.
Since that release in 2014, when not working with other TIMEWHEEL artists or focusing on all-important opportunities for personal/spiritual growth, the Something Fiction crew has been at work on its next release, which is poised to be its biggest and most important yet.
In previewing two of the (still unnamed) album’s tracks, with the working titles “Watchers” and “Microcosm,” it is evident that Something Fiction is moving its sound in new directions, while keeping the best of what it has developed over the years. “Watchers” is the most intense and driving thing that Something Fiction has ever done, and, right from the first moments, it sears its way into your brain. Led forward by a jangly electric guitar refrain and layers of percussion, the song contemplates the point of view of the ultimate observer and what it might look/feel like to access that point of view. “Microcosm,” for its part, sounds more like the Something Fiction that fans are familiar with—warm and organic synths that wash over one another, thoughtful and deliberate ambient swirls, and drowned percussion that resembles a beating heart buried in the formless ether, just out of reach. The song arrives and departs gently as a tide, seeming to defy the very concepts of ending and beginning.
Suffice it to say that Something Fiction, beloved electro-psych explorers and believers in the mystical powers of music, are about to be back in a big way. Below, check out an interview conducted with Humble and Rodriguez, where they discuss the new work among other topics. And, stay tuned for more updates on this exciting new material from Something Fiction.
It’s been a minute since you guys have taken the time to publicly talk Something Fiction. What has the band been up to and to what extent do you think the label, etc. takes away time from the band? With that, in what ways does working with other acts make Something Fiction better?
Matt: We have all been creating in various mediums and also taking time for balance and meditation each day. Our label takes up time, for sure, but it has been some of the most fun we have had in awhile – getting to work with all of these artists. It is always inspiring to be around fellow creators and we constantly push each other to progress in our respective art forms.
Raul: We have been working to complete the SF album when we can get the time outside of the label. I personally have been making music extensively for both my solo project Trionre and with the quartet project [Q], both of which will release work in 2017. Working with other artists keeps us motivated and inspired to reach further in our music, as we see these projects through to completion.
Listening to the two new tracks, one may note the seeming emergence of a certain duality to the SF sound. While “Microcosm” reminds us of earlier, heavily contemplative work (from Botany to “Trees”), “Watchers” has this harder edge to it and is less meditative. Is there a conscious effort going on to diversify the sound of the band? Can we expect the next album to present these kind of dual faces?
Matt: SF has evolved quite a bit but we will always be fascinated with creating ambient and meditative spaces within music. With our new string of releases we are experimenting with higher energy tracks that have a quicker, more lively pulse. This diversification naturally occurred as some experiences we’ve wanted to document in our music had a bit heavier of a message to convey.
So is a new album on the way? What’s the timetable on that? Any special aspects of the planned release format, etc?
SF: Yes. Soon, but no timetable. But, soon. We plan to release on all types of mediums: digital and physical.
With Botany and Mycology, SF focused on two particular themes–what’s next in the evolution? In other words, is there a particular, over-arching thematic element with the new material (album) as there was with those other two releases? With that, what are some of the big inspirations on this new work?
SF: In our new work we are exploring the transformation of the individual. It is more personal, darker and a departure in many ways from our previous work. As with past releases, the new album remains conceptual but we are recording using a more diverse range of instruments and vocal styles. The state of mind our music is emitting from acts as both the inspiration to create the aural space, and the end result – the recording of that mental scene. We have a lot of fun exploring particular philosophies in our music that stem from a higher or ancient level of understanding when we write.
Now that SF has been working on recorded music for a while, what lessons have you learned from previous endeavors? How do these lessons/experiences shape the way you approach recording today?
Matt: We have a flow with the process now. We are also more patient and are really trying to nurture the paths that the music wants to go down after we start a track. I feel that letting go during the recording process is also very important. It allows the creativity to flow more freely and we have surprised ourselves with the things that come of that.
With new music on the way, do you plan to tour and/or do more live shows in general? In general, what does 2017 look like for SF?
Matt: Yes we do plan to do a tour to support the release once the album is out. We have been building a team of event producers that are ready to slay it for us in 2017.
With all the turmoil in the world today, would you care to comment on the role of music and musicians in making the world/the U.S. a better place?
SF: It’s a complicated question. We believe musicians should aim to help the world in some way with their art, YET they shouldn’t HAVE to be confined to any boxes to fully express themselves. Music and art varies from person to person, but we do aim to shed light on certain situations that modern society is struggling with.