Kansas based metal/hardcore upstarts Revisionist are gearing up for the release of their new six track EP The Emptiness Of Gravity, out this Friday May 21st.
Leading singles Deathbed Kings and Half Moon serve up chaotic riffs and scathing vocals, there’s a lot here for fans of early 2000s hardcore, every time I die, and getting pummeled.
We caught up with guitarist Joshua Barbee to talk about the new record, Kemper vs Neural DSP Quad Cortex, and how the song is always king.
You recorded the new EP with Aaron Gillespie of Underoath – how did that come about, and how was that experience?
Aaron and I crossed paths a few times over the years touring and traveling. A good friend of mine, Thomas, played guitar in his solo project and with the other interactions I figured “Just ask, the worst he can say is, no”.
The recording experience, not only during, but before and after was incredible.
We had been back and forth with a few studios and they wanted to do the EP, but something just felt right with Rio Grande, Ken and Aaron. When we talked about what we wanted in a recording experience, we knew we needed a place that screamed “Mojo”. Ken has built a house of rock and roll, it is an incredible place before you walk in the door.
Aaron knows what he is doing and he’s amazing to watch work. He is so efficient. He’s very honest and you can’t be too rigid. Song is King and nothing else matters.
What do you feel he brought to the table?
We know how to riff, but our demos were all gas and no brakes. Aaron is a mastermind of space and dynamic, while still being able to add a catchy, infectious vibe into the mix.
When we thought about what we wanted for this EP, we wanted to be able to connect with a broader audience while maintaining our identity. Aaron took the time to find our heartbeat and build a body of music around it. He took no shit from us, he knows our market and still has a foot in Pop and Country, so when he pushed on us, we reminded ourselves that we came here for this moment, with this guy. It would serve us to listen to him.
I think we made the right choice.
Revisionist’s debut record, Culling, was with Jeff Sayhoun of Letlive – can you tell me about how that was different to recording with Gillespie?
Jeff is one of my best friends, we met on Letlives first tour out of California. For years, Jeff and I talked about working together. The guy is amazingly talented. Culling was tracked remotely and we were sending pre production back and forth for reworking. No matter what we were at a disadvantage, not being in the same room limited the ability to really “vibe out” during the writing process. Jeff was more involved in the process than we could have ever asked for, but we were definitely at a disadvantage not being physically together.
With Aaron, we brought demos that were about 80% complete. Each morning in the studio, we would sit down with Aaron and rewrite each song before tracking. Every studio experience we have had, always started with drums for the whole record and layering the instruments and vocals from there. The Emptiness of Gravity was one song, done each day we were in the studio. We would get there in the morning, rewrite and move straight into drums, then guitars and bass and finish off the day with vocals. Each day we would build off of the previous days song. Doing it this way, really helped us to build a sound, not just a collection of songs.
I understand the studio you guys used for the EP had some pretty rad old gear, can you tell me about that?
Kenny has been in this business for 40 years. He’s worked with everyone from Jaco Pastorius, to Micky Fee (Prince) and Guitarists for Bowie. I’m sure you can assume, but along the way he has acquired some seriously rare and unique pieces.
His guitar and bass collection is unreal, a bunch of the leads on Emptiness of Gravity, were tracked using one of Joe Walsh’s guitars. Everything in the studio has a story worth asking about.
Something that was cool was getting to track drums on Aarons Gretsch USA custom kit from Erase Me.
How did the band deal with the lockdowns in 2020? Did you guys end up spending more time on the EP than you might otherwise have?
Originally, our recording date was in April of 2020, scheduling conflicts arose and we had to push to May then to Nov. At that point no one knew what the impact of covid was going to be. We pushed back a lot due to travel restrictions and lockdowns. When things started opening again and Rio Grande and Aaron had an opening, we just couldn’t say no. It gave us more time to prepare and really make sure we were ready for recording.
Were you guys at all slow to put out a record right now that you can’t immediately tour behind?
The thought really never crossed our mind. We had riffs coming out of our ears with the expectation of recording this EP. We love the process of creating music and never even considered waiting until we could tour.
So guitars! What did you guys use on the new record in terms of guitars/amps/pedals?
One of the biggest perks of being on ESPs roster for this EP was definitely that they sent us some toys for the studio. I brought a small selection of my own. Two of my Eclipses, one of which I got from my buddy Philly, who plays in Norma Jean, my Eii full thickness and my old Hybrid 1. Each of the Eclipses have different pick up flavors. One has a Duncan Nazgul, the other a Devin Townsend Fishman Fluence set. That being said, almost all of our leads were tracked on a rad, old Gretsch and a Strat.
Everyday we built new guitar and bass tone to suit the song of the day. I brought a one of a kind Baron Custom Amp that made it on every track, there is only one in existence and it suited the sound. We used a dime’d Vox Ac15 combo for most of the leads and a secondary rhythm channel. We also had an original JCM 800 50w and a Splawn Quickrod. We used my Trex Octavious pedal and that was it.
Did you have any reference records going into the studio in terms of how you wanted the finished product to sound?
When we first started talking about recording with Ken, we had referenced some records, however as the process went on, we let those all go. We wanted to figure out “our sound”, find what fit our songs.
Are you a gear head at all? Any pieces of gear you’ve played recently that were a pleasant surprise? Anything you got to play that was disappointing?
This is my time to shine. I am a huge gear head. I have owned and sold (some regrettably) more amps than most people have ever seen. Currently I have a few loved pieces and a few I’m not sure about.
- Budda Superdrive 45 (love this amp)
- Vht Pitbull 45
- Hovercraft Baltar v1
- Krank rev1
- Krank rev jr 50
- Baron Mii
- Ampeg v4b
- Orange Or80
- Mesa Boogie Dual Rec
- Mesa Bass 400
- Peavey Butcher
I am always trading amps in and out since I run a stereo rig. It’s really the only way to figure out what tone you like, being able to see what blends and what doesn’t. Currently, I have been jamming on a Quad Cortex for demos and it’s a mind blowing piece of equipment. I don’t know if it will ever replace my amps, but I like it more than the Kemper I have.
I have played ESP guitars most of my life in one way or another. It’s so rad having them work with the band. I have a pretty substantial collection. Lately I have really been vibing with my “the Hybrid” its sort of a mix between a tele and les paul junior with a bolt on maple neck. It has one pickup and is so simple but it just rips. I have a handful of fernandes vertigos as well that are my guilty pleasure.
As far as pickups I am really a passive guy. I have a few active sets in but mostly because I’m too lazy to change them out. I really vibe with the Seymour Duncan Full Shreds as well as the JB.
Is there any one piece of gear that you couldn’t do without? Anything that’s integral to your sound?
It’s my Baron Mii. Baron was a custom company that made a bunch of really rad amps over the years. I got it in a trade with a guy in Oklahoma. I did some research and found out from the owner, that it is the only one like it, in existence. The owner built it for himself. Everything else in my collection is cool, but I could work around them. We used the Baron all over both Culling and The Emptiness of Gravity.
A lot of guitarists are embracing modelling and profiling amps these days, especially due to making fly in gigs much easier. What’s your take on digital amps and effects?
The technology has improved insane amounts in this space over the last few years. In my experience, it’s hard for people to get great tone on anything let alone modeling.
We have a Kemper and a Quad Cortex we used for demos and recording at home. It is definitely better than anything we could record with our mics and an interface. Though recently I have tried a few shows with my Kemper, I think I will always use my amps whenever I can because I really do believe nothing can trump a really great mic and quality amp.
Digital has it’s place and has definitely made recording demos so much easier.
The quad cortex has been big news, especially among kemper users – how would you compare the two?
We have both and I personally like the Neural more.
The Kemper is very complex and is not very user friendly. There are like 10 different downloadable manuals for it. I know they are awesome but its hard to take the time to really dive in and figure it all out. You have to use a computer to access new downloads etc so it can be time consuming.
The Neural is very simple. The app makes it so easy to try new profiles and captures. It is complex as well and both do more than I know how to do but I am much faster with the Neural. We don’t run a studio or need it to do 1000 things so simplicity is key. I personally think that the Neural is so much more versatile with blending tones and multiple in and outputs. which is huge for us. The Kemper cant even start to do those things.
I have always blended tones with a stereo rig and the quad cortex is amazing for that big blended tone and mixed outputs for front of house.
For someone who’s just discovering your band and wants to hear more music that sounds like you, what bands would you suggest they start with?
We pull influence from lots of bands. We love aspects from Reign Supreme, Comeback Kid, Poison the Well and Scarlett. I would say, start there and see what you like.
Any good new Kansas bands that aren’t on a national radar that people should check out?
Oh yea. One of our favorites is a band from right here in Wichita called Parallax. Their newest record, Awaken, just released and it’s so good. They are creatively heavy and remind me of some of my favorite early 00’s heavy bands. Their drummer Clayton is one of my favorite drummers to watch not just in our local scene, but nationally.
Any good inactive or broken up up Kansas bands that never got the attention they deserved that people should dive into?
Kansas has bred so many cool bands. Coalesce, The Appleseed Cast, The Esoteric, Reggie and the Full effect, and The Get Up Kids. They deserve lots of listens.
If someone maybe wasn’t familiar with you guys but wanted to learn to play one of your songs, where would you suggest they start? Any riffs/licks/passages in particular that are fun to play, or maybe challenging but rewarding for more advanced players?
First, I would say, if you are looking for riffs to play, you have come to the right place. Some of our favorite songs to play are, Thought Crime and Long Live off of Culling. Our new EP, The Emptiness of Gravity has a song called Wasteland Dreams and it is our new favorite. Josh Peavey, our drummer actually wrote a part that’s in the first two minutes that really shouldn’t be such a pain in the ass, but it pissed us all off while learning it.
What’s up next for the band? Any new material in the works? Any post-rona plans?
We have a few shows booked. We are playing Audiofeed festival in Illinois. We have already started writing for a full length that we will be recording in the fall. We will team up with Aaron Gillespie again, for good reason. We developed a really good relationship and think we have more to learn. It is a good fit to help develop more of our own identity.