Infinite Illusion have just dropped a new single ‘Absence’ and the boys have definitely taken it up a notch. Liam McDonald filled me in on what has been happening with the band.

How heavy is this new song!!

It’s funny because it’s our heaviest but also our lightest at the same time and I don’t really know how that ended up working. Dynamically it is so different to anything else we have ever done. We like it.

Me too. When I first heard it I was like Wow that went next level!

A lot of it has to do with the fact that our first lot of stuff was written by Sam when he was 15. We are all mid-twenties now, so Sam wrote that nearly a decade ago. We’d all been doing our own thing and when it came around to release it was a joke. We were all just hanging around and were like ‘hey do we want to release some music?’ and it just spiralled from there. And then we just kept going. This is the first real song that we wrote as a band now.

It wasn’t what I was expecting

I don’t think even we were expecting it. We got a new member at the back end of last year and we completely changed everything. We didn’t really have any intention of releasing any other music to be honest, we were a bit stale and then we got a kick to keep going. This is the first song that came out of it. We’ve got a few more coming after this. We are actually going into the studio the day before Absence comes out to start recording another couple of songs. I think after that we are planning to do an album, I’m not 100% sure. We’ll see how we go.

What’s the story behind the song?

The story behind the song is pretty interesting actually. Dan hit me with a concept, I write the lyrics for all of our stuff, but the concepts are somewhere I have always struggled I guess. Well not struggled but I tend to box myself in to certain topics and that kind of thing. It was really good Dan hit me with a concept of PTSD and reclaiming a loss of identity. Which is actually something I resonated quite well with but didn’t put a lot of thought into. It’s a personification of that kind of feeling, of being trapped and trying to come back and overcome depression, anxiety, PTSD, whatever it might be. It’s a very metaphoric story behind reclaiming who you are before mental health kicks in, as opposed to who you are after. And that’s were if you listen lyrically as it goes along it’s very much a song that literally tells a story. It starts off you’re being held back, you’re falling apart. This thing is attacking you. As it gets further along, the chorus tells the main story. As it gets closer to the breakdown, the breakdown hits in the song “I’ll break your fucking jaw myself” is literally a line about turning around and throwing back. Just fighting and getting out. I remember when I sent the boys that lyric, I loved it and I remember writing it and going that’s really cool. I honestly didn’t think I would get away with it, I thought the boys were going to come back and be like you can’t do that its ridiculous. Instead they were like no that’s staying. A lot of the song built on that lyric, that pre breakdown lyric stayed and I edited everything else on the side to really create that story of a reclamation identity. Fighting back against something that I think a lot of people in our scene deal with.

Dan wrote this song at a time when he discovered he has PTSD. Through 2019 he definitely had this big breakdown. He was in a couple of other bands as well and he overwhelmed himself and it broke him. We bought him in as a fill in drummer. I’m good friends with him so I asked if he wanted to fill in for a couple of shows. It was like an instant click, between me and him especially with these concepts and lyrically. And really translating that into music as well. I thought everything kind of clicked and he’s got these incredible experiences, he’s older than the rest of us, that we can write about and really tell some cool stories. This is the first one where we are really focused on the story telling of the song. Even though the music is important I think for us playing this live, when we get that chance, will definitely be a little bit more emotional than anything else we have done. I honestly think it comes across in the track as well.

Like I said when I listened to it I was like what the hell happened between Ill Intent and here?

We took a break to reinvent ourselves in all honesty. We took that break intentionally and everything fell into place.  We have been sitting on this song since January, obviously with a few things kicking in it pushed it back a bit further than we would have liked. But it gave us time to really think about who we were as a band. I think above anything that is a positive. We weren’t being forced to play shows, we had time to pull back and just think “What are we doing here? Who are we? Are we just another metalcore band? Do we want to attach ourselves to politics or mental health? What do we want to do?” We all have different political views so that was a big no, but the one thing we all absolutely resonated with was mental health. Having someone who has had such heavy experiences, my best friend died when I was 16 and Sam has lost a couple of friends, To The Grave losing Josh. We saw all that and we were like this is where we need to be. I think this is the one where we can actually help give people, not so much a space, but give them a soundtrack to that space. And just really focus on doing that. I think that is why lyrically we are pushing this content so much. Lyrically, above anything else, its quite a powerful song and we are really proud of it. I’m proud of the lyrics that I came up with, they came so naturally as well which makes it better.

It wasn’t forced, it came from an experience. It’s not something that you guys have just thought ‘Oh I’m going to write about this cos I can’

Pretty much that’s exactly it. Experience tells those stories better that anything. I think as well when we were writing it we had a big discussion: do we censor it or do we just make it violent. I’m not a big fan of censoring things, I don’t think it’s ever a bad thing to feel uncomfortable. I feel being uncomfortable is a huge part of growth. Obviously people are scared to feel like that, scared to face those truths. We made the song vivid for that reason, if it does make people feel a little uncomfortable that’s okay. It could be good; it might not be good and that’s a risk we had to take.

There is no point writing a song like that and not being real about it.

Definitely. We did get a lot of push back from quite a few people being ‘Guys this is a little bit graphic, you could really trigger some people with these lyrics’ We pulled them back a little bit, but it ended up being like what we had written to start with. The guy that we produced with was just like nah don’t pull back, just do it. You’re not going to make an impact if you are being safe. We were just yep that works let’s just do it.

I would totally back him with that one. If you want something to have an impact on people, don’t water it down. It’s not going to have the same effect.

Exactly. This song is all about that impact for us I think. Our last record wasn’t bad, I’m not a huge fan of it, I would never listen to it. That was the big one for me. This album we really wanted to make that impact. We want people even above anything else to just know out name. Even if they don’t listen to the song, that ok. I just want people to get used to seeing our name around because we have every intention of keeping it there.

You only have the one single ready to go?

In terms of all our demos, we have about 7 or 8 that are being recorded over the next 3 months. The plan is 3 stand alone singles, reinventing our sound and image off the back of those. Then we will do another record. Whether that is an EP, or an album remains to be seen. That depends on a lot of factors.  We are just playing it by ear, one single at a time. None of the singles that we release will be on that record. The record will be totally stand alone as the new version of us. Ill Intent gave us a start but it’s definitely time that we left that behind and really focused on the new version and sound that we have. Except for maybe Afterthought, that’s the only one that will stay around for a little while. We really like that song, and we think it’s a lot more modern than the rest.

I liked the EP!!!

I don’t think it was bad, it just wasn’t anything special. Musically it was good, technical, heavy breakdowns, big riffs. It was cool but there was nothing new about it. It was good if you liked it, but it didn’t hold people. I think it didn’t give people a reason to stay.

This one will if the first single is anything to go by.

I’m a lot more confident with this one. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been listening to it by myself for the last 6-8 months! I took a break of listening to it then I came back to it. I was like yes this is good. Its really hard a musician to sit there and praise yourself, questioning could you have down stuff better. But coming back to it, I actually took this lesson off Mikey from Gloom, come back to it and if you still like it, its good.

I’m a classical piano player. I have been my whole life. So for me to join a metalcore band is kind of unheard of. I remember one of my old conductors from an orchestra I played in a couple of years ago was like ‘What the fuck are you doing? How do you make that noise, it’s disgusting’. I was like yep it is but its fucking sick!!

It’s a cool genre to be in. I think as a small band above anything else, its really really cool to be in metalcore. I’ve been in other bands over the years, nothing heavy. Blues and rock and one cover band that I don’t talk about! I’ve played big blues festivals and stuff.  But there’s nothing quite like the support I have experienced in metal. There is nothing quite like the community, it’s so amazing to see a community that is so supportive of each other.

So there will be no touring with this!

There’s nothing in the pipeline. Collide, we have had to push back twice now. Unify is looking like it’s not going ahead as well. It’s shit but at the same time at least we aren’t dead. You have to take the positives. I think it has given a lot of us time to grow as well. Time to reflect. I was working stupid hours, and I know the other guys in the band were the same. We had no time for ourselves. We can either use this time to loathe in the fact that everything has been taken away, or we can use this time to become better. Really reflect on past practises, how we do things and who we are. Make time for other things in our lives. Take the positives out of being forced to do nothing.

I started Recurrent Verse at the end of April and it’s just gone crazy. I’ve already posted 60 articles and I’m getting more everyday

That’s mental. That’s so good. It’s good to see some new publications around.

I only do Australian bands because there is so much happening here. Aussie metalcore is my passion.

That’s the cool stuff. I don’t know what it is about Australian metalcore but far out there is something in the water here. Jesus some of the bands that are coming out like Elision and Inertia. Deadlights, I’ve always been a huge fan of those guys.

I am so keen for new Deadlights. Mesma is in my top 10 all time albums.

It’s such a good record. Elision’s new stuff has been incredible. The technicality in those boys is amazing. They are a very talented bunch of dudes. I have so much respect for them. Inertia as well, they are one of those bands that I think has the ability to blow up. Outloved have just announced a record. I was like omg this is like listening to BMTH but not listening to BMTH!! It had that impact on me. It was like listening to one of my favourite bands. It was so good to hear. There is just so much good stuff out at the moment.

There’s so many new cool bands coming through too like Ghost Complex, Canyon, Tides Collide, Dweller, Wake the Blind so many good bands

And Lune. I forgot about them. Then you look at the big boys and what they are releasing. Alpha Wolf’s record I thought was really good. There’s more coming from other bands. That 2 year cycle has now reduced to 1 year. To see so many bands releasing stuff is so good. I honestly don’t think I have heard a bad release this year.

I haven’t either. Someone said to me that everything I write is always so positive, do you just not review bad bands! I said to them honest to god there had not been a bad release this year.

I think album of the year has to be Make Them Suffer or Currents. They are my two.

I would say at the moment mine would be Alpha Wolf, Make Them Suffer, Saviour and We Set Signals.

Saviour’s was sick too. It means everyone has to step up or you are going to get left behind.

Diamond Construct is another one! Who would think adding a DJ would work… I’m loving all this experimentation in the scene.

It’s super important to do that metalcore has always been such a non-accessible kind of genre. It’s always been you like it or you don’t. That is definitely changing now, metalcore as a genre is changing with bands like BMTH leading the way. Whether you like AMO or not, it has set a standard for what you can do in metalcore. I personally thought it was their best record.

I personally think that ‘Absence’ is Infinite Illusions best release so far! After talking to Liam I think we are about to see big things come from the boys. Bring on 2021 when hopefully gigs returns and we can see ‘Absence’ played in a live setting…

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