Misha Mansoor Recalls How Periphery Wrote 17-Minute Song, Discusses Band’s Creative Process

Periphery founder and guitar player Misha Mansoor reflected on his band’s creative process, sharing a few details about how the almost 17-minute-long song “Reptile” came to be.

The band is famous for their specific style of progressive metal. Sure, you can just call them “djent,” but Periphery are way more than just that. This is especially heard with “Reptile,” which is the opening track from the band’s 2019 record “Periphery IV: Hail Stan.”

For Misha, writing music and the whole creative process gives him a special kind of feeling. “It’s like an open-world video game,” the musician said during his recent chat with the Tuonela Magazine. “You make your own adventure out of it.”

Interview with Misha of @Periphery (Audio only) ● 2024 ● Tuonela Magazine

And yes, we completely understand the feeling. And just imagine what the adventure is like for a band like Periphery who tend to write long pieces with a lot of changes. When asked to share a few behind-the-scenes details about what their whole creative process looks like for these extended songs, Misha replied (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“When we’re putting these things together, we’re not really paying attention to the length. And then once we’ve got an arrangement that we’ve settled on or that we feel is generally there, that’s the point where we’ll be like, ‘How long is this? Oh, wow, it’s this length’, or whatever.”

“I don’t even remember with ‘Dracul Gras,'” he added, “if it was the kind of thing where we noticed it was getting long, or at the end, we were like, ‘Wow, okay, all right, we’re hitting 10 minutes for this one.'”

The song “Dracul Gras” comes from Periphery’s latest album, 2023’s “Periphery V: Djent Is Not a Genre.” It’s a bit over 12 minutes long, so we get what Misha is saying here. Nonetheless, as he further discussed the band’s creative process, Mansoor says that song length isn’t really a priority for Periphery.

Periphery - Dracul Gras (Official Audio)

“But it’s not really an important thing,” he continued. “Maybe it’s something that should be more important because maybe I wish we had put a shorter song on the album. [Laughs] Certainly, from a music video standpoint, it would have been a little bit cheaper.”

Jokes aside, Mansoor pointed out how long songs simply happen naturally. It’s not like they go out of their way to make the songs really long and overly complex just for the sake of it. Instead, it’s all about making the song make sense.

“We’re not really thinking about song length,” Misha added. “When we’re writing, we’re thinking about it from, ‘Is the idea complete? Is the sentence complete, or the thought complete?'”

“And there are certain songs where it doesn’t take very much to get that point. And then there are other songs where it just feels like it has more to say, or where there’s more to explore.”

But, of course, there’s the obvious behemoth in their discography, the 17-minute-long “Reptile.” So, how do you end up crafting such a piece? When reminded of it, Misha replied:

“That song is another example. That’s the first thing that we wrote for ‘Periphery IV.’ I think we were just very excited to write, and we were messing with a tuning that we’d never played with before, so it was kind of the perfect storm to just get a whole bunch of ideas out.”

Interestingly enough, the song came up quicker than you’d think. He added:

“And we wrote that song fairly quickly. It was written pretty much entirely as it is, from an instrumental standpoint, over the course of three subsequent days. So it happened very fast.”

Periphery - Reptile (Audio)

“And it’s just because we were just bursting with ideas, and then we realized, ‘Oh, wow, we’ve got to tell the rest of the guys that we wrote this long song, and I really hope that they don’t veto it or hate it, or whatever.'”

“And this is generally how it goes for songs,” Misha explained. “We’re writing, and we’re not really paying attention to anything other than, ‘How does this feel? Do we feel good about this? Okay, cool. Do we not feel good about this? Can this be fixed? Or maybe we can’t fix it. Maybe let’s put this one off to the side for later. Maybe we can tackle it at a later date.’ It’s a very intuitive process.”

Photo: Prog Sphere (Misha-Mansoor)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.