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Phil Weller of Prognosis: Interview

Prognosis have recently released their brand new single, Into The Grey. Dubbed the UK’s answer to Gojira and Mastadon, Prognosis have played on some of the biggest stages across Europe. Their debut album, Definition, was released in 2018 and was accompanied by a set of short stories to enhance the concept.

Here, Phil Weller, guitarist with Prognosis, joins us for a chat about the new single, the future, and the shares his definitive prog metal albums.

Phil Weller

Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration for the single?

Into The Grey is a song that looks at depression and how different people deal with it. As both Danny and I wrote the lyrics together, we both went down different angles around within the theme and spoke about different sides of it relating to different experiences we’ve had with it. Be that first or second hand.

But more than that, it represents where we are at, musically in 2020. We’re trying to refine and evolve our sound and Into The Grey is a good representation of where our sound is headed.

Musically, the inspiration came from wanting a song that did a bit of everything we love. From fat, snarling riffs to utilising different time signatures, having light and shade and different emotions. Danny and I have also been pushing to be better singers and this is our strongest song, vocally speaking, to date I would say. There are gravelly vocal moments, but there’s not a reliance on them. With this song we wanted to have hooky vocals you can sing along to and for them to be the point of focus. It’s a long song and a far bit happens across seven minutes, but we like music that takes you on a journey, and Into The Grey, we feel, does exactly that.

There’s always a thematic narrative to your songs and music and you released a collection of short stories with your last album. Do you think there will be more releases along those lines to accompany the music?

The short answer is that I don’t honestly know. I loved writing the Definition short stories but at the same time is was a very intense and at times quite daunting project to work on. I think the book has been a success; it’s been a personal triumph for me, but I think it’s also showed the world that we’re an ambitious band who strives to go beyond the music and give fans a unique product and a different experience alongside the record itself. It’s been really well received, but at the same time do we want to repeat ourselves?

One of the things that brought the Definition book to life was that some of the stories were already in my mind and that some others just poured out of me once I sat down to work on them. I wouldn’t want a book around the second album to be forced, so we’ll see. What’s for certain is we loved that the book made the record a multimedia release, so we’ll definitely want to continue down that path with future releases.

You’ve played some big shows in your time as Prognosis. What have you missed the most about not being able to play shows during most of 2020? Are there any places you’re really excited to get back to when the world is safer?

I’ve missed the thrill of being on stage more than anything I think, and the cathartic element of it all. Screaming down a microphone and sharing a stage with your best mates, performing songs you’re proud to have written together is a great feeling. That’s why we do this, at the end of the day.

When things go back to normal – whatever normal is anymore! – I’d love to explore new places, particularly in Europe. We were lucky enough to play Into The Grave Festival in Leeuwarden, Netherlands last year. It was a place I’d never heard of and it was beautiful. We loved roaming the streets and just soaking it all in.

And I think too from a growth side of things, 2019 was the first time we got to play in Europe, which felt like a really big, exciting and positive step for us. So to be able to push on and hit more countries on the continent when all this blows over would really affirm for us that we’re doing a good thing and that our music is taking us to the places where we aspire to be.

There are lots of influences at play in Prognosis’ sound. How do you work around these influences to ensure you don’t become derivative of them?

I think collaboration is the key thing. Having everyone’s musical personalities on each and every track is important to us and when an idea does quite strongly channel the vibe of a particular band, we find that, by the time it’s been pulled this way and that from other people’s input, it helps that idea sound more like us. Or if we do find ourselves with an idea that sounds like Mastodon or whoever it may be, how we then orchestrate the other instruments and the vocals around it really helps diversify things.

Prognosis - Definition: Album Review — Manchester Rocks
Prognosis’ debut album

We like channelling the bands and musicians that inspire us and for me as a listener that can help me get into a band, almost like a gateway, but for me at least, there has to be other flavours and colours in there to offer something more. Otherwise it feels a bit one dimensional.

Manchester has a fervent metal scene. Which bands would you be recommending to people from the Manchester scene (aside from yourselves of course!)?

We share a room with a band called 40,000 Leagues who have the accessible metal, big hooks and big riffs thing down really well. It’s been amazing seeing them grow over the past couple of years. There’s some real talent in that band.

Beyond Salvation are another band doing Manchester proud. They’ve got a good balance between Trivium metalcore and Sylosis style thrash. The music they’ve been producing lately has been top drawer.

What do you feel are the five definitive prog metal albums?

Man, what a question. To try and get a good spread of bands who I think are quintessential to the genre I’d go for:

Opeth – Ghost Reveries

Most people would go for Blackwater Park, but for me this album strikes an insanely good balance between brutal death metal and really catchy, polished songs. For me that balance is something every good prog metal band should have.

Dream Theater – Systematic Chaos

No prog metal list would be complete without these band, they helped forge the genre and albums like this, which features the masterpiece that is Dark Eternal Night, again show that a musical balance can be struck. Yeah, their songs are super complex, but they’re also rammed full of simple, effective hooks.

Meshuggah – Obzen

I think this one speaks for itself. No one does polyrithmic pummellings quite like these guys. They’re a force of nature.

Mastodon – Leviathan

A constant source of inspiration for us, along with rest of their discography, especially Blood Mountain and Crack The Skye. The ferocity, the intricate guitars, the mad octopus drumming, it’s a record brimming with inspiration.

Leprous – The Congregation

At times resting somewhere between Muse and Meshuggah, the sound of this album is next level. Einar’s vocals are incredible and the jittery, really tightly syncopated music is a thing to behold for me. It’s just so powerful.

What does the future hold for Prognosis? New album? More singles? More books?

More everything! We’ve been making the use of these gigless times to continue working on our second album. With that, we want to take everything that we felt made Definition great and go one step further with it. We want the songs to be bigger and catchier, but more ambitious and progrssive too. We’re really excited about what we’ve written so far.

Into The Grey was important in getting new music out there, as was our first new track since Definition, but now we just wanna hunker back down and finish the album. When that’s ready they’ll be more of everything for sure. We want the promotion and work around this album to be bigger and better than last time. If there isn’t a new book, there’ll be something else that adds a new dimension to the album release, we want to have more music videos and video content and give our fans plenty to immerse themselves into, alongside another 10 or 11 songs.

Many thanks to Phil for taking the time to talk to us. Check out Into The Grey below. You can connect with the band via their social links, and if you like what you hear, try to support the band through their Bandcamp page.

Prognosis: Bandcamp / Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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