Thessaloniki, Greece based progressive rock/metal quintet Within Progress was formed in 2017. The band recorded their debut EP ‘Oceans of Time‘ same year, and released it in April 2018. While the group is currently working on songs for their upcoming full-length release, we featured a song from a debut EP on our latest Progotronics compilation, and as a result of that we talked with the band about their work.
Define the mission of Within Progress.
We are five very different people who came together from our love of music. We don’t “do” genres, we gather together to write music we love and want to hear, and we think that it has a potential for something unique, because of how different each one of our personality and mindset is. Our mission is to get that across to as many people as we can.
Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut EP “Oceans of Time” and the themes it captures.
“Oceans of Time” is the collection of the best songs we ever tried to write together as a band. The basis of all songs was written by only two of current members and an ex-guitarist who would get together 1-2 times per week and see what kind of music they could compose together. Since the current line-up was completed very shortly before we started recording, many things were re-written during the sessions. Music always came before lyrics and it’s almost always like that for us as we are more expressive with music than with lyrics. We also didn’t have a singer during the majority of the time that the songs were being written so what you hear on the EP are mainly guitar/riff driven compositions with vocals placed on top as efficiently as we could. It was the first serious songwriting attempt for all us and we think we got a very stellar result.
The themes that “Oceans of Time” captures are mainly based on negative aspects of modern day society, with a slight emphasis on certain human behaviors and patterns, and how those cause hostility and alienation in our relationships. For example, we question the beliefs of parents that are passed on to their children at an age when they haven’t developed their own free will or how sometimes we would rather appear knowledgeable to impress our peers than admitting that we in fact know very little of that certain subject.
What is the message you are trying to give with “Oceans of Time”?
It’s always more controversial when someone speaks about the negative side of things and provokes people and lyrically we wanted to do just that. To make people aware of these situations, acknowledge that they’re there, they’re real and they affect our daily lives, and try to better ourselves and our relationships with each other in spite of them.
Musically, “Oceans of Time” is a kind of “we’re here” statement. We wanted to introduce ourselves to the scene with just a small taste before we set on to release more ambitious things.
How did you document the music while it was being formulated?
We would always write everything on software and orchestrate the songs from the computer first before we played them live in the studio. There’s an upside and a downside in doing this. We chose to work in this manner because of the nature of progressive music. For example, you can’t go in the studio and suddenly jam syncopated riffs in odd time signatures from scratch. You have to actually see everything written down on paper or on screen. So each new idea was first written on sheet music on the computer and we worked our way up from there. Usually the guitar was the driving force of the songs except for the song “Oceans of Time” in which the drums were written first.
The downside of our approach to songwriting is that the music isn’t as spontaneous as it could be if it was written while rehearsing. We try to balance the two approaches when we write music now.
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?
The fact that the pieces are carefully architected is a bit of an understatement (haha), and we don’t mean that in a pretentious way. The songs are most definitely not perfect but we’re not the kind of band that writes a song in a few hours and calls it a day. The basic structure of the song could be written in a short amount of time but it takes weeks before we’re happy with the end result. We always ask ourselves “How could this part be better?” or “Is this section really as good as it can be?”. For “Oceans of Time”, many sections were re-arranged and re-written, parts were erased or added, even during the recording sessions, while always serving the song.
Describe the approach to recording the EP.
We recorded the EP in Fireball Music Studio in Thessaloniki. We had already decided which 5 songs we would include in the album. Before recording we listened to the songs with the producer from demos we had made ourselves and some others in MIDI form. He offered some suggestions for the songs themselves and for how we would approach recording.
Drums & percussion were recorded first in 3 days followed by guitars, bass and piano/synths. Because of the two bassists that came before our current one, the bass parts were the ones that suffered the most alterations during the process as they did not fit well with the drums so many things were changed on the spot. Finally vocals came last and took the longest. Our singer actually recorded the entire album in a day but decided to erase the whole thing and redo everything as he wasn’t happy with the result. During recording, at least two band members were present to offer suggestions and help so no one actually recorded alone. Our producer helped us hugely in both the compositional side of things as well as the recording process itself and we took his advice when we thought that it improved the song. That was the case in many different occasions. It was the first official recording session for all of us during which we discovered how different the studio is from a live setting but we also grasped our capabilities as musicians in our own respective instruments.
How long was “Oceans of Time” in the making?
The songs were written in a year although some ideas existed long before. The recording sessions for drums, guitars took place in July 2017 while bass, piano/synths and vocals went on during the autumn of 2017. The album was mixed and mastered by Joe FK by February 2018 and the first song was released in March with the entire album release in April 2018. In general, the entire album was almost a year and a half in the making, from the songwriting to the mastering stage.
Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?
The songs were being written while the main songwriters of the band were out of their heavy metal phase and into discovering more and more progressive bands. So you can expect the “classic” Tool, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree influence on the music as well as more modern examples like Tesseract, Leprous, Mastodon & Gojira and also Hans Zimmer on the track “Celestial Notion”. A lot of our guitar work was actually inspired by Greek traditional music where odd time signatures and a lot of “eastern” sounding melodies are commonplace. That theme is actually very upfront on the record and many people have noticed it.
What is your view on technology in music?
We live in an age where you can take basically any sound and manipulate or process it in any way you see fit. With that fact alone, the sky is the limit when it comes to making music which to us is unbelievably fascinating. We’re big fans of using effects or plugins, reversed sounds and processed audio in an unconventional way just to see what sound they make and how that can be used musically. All that is now at your fingertips, at a click of a button and with basic computer knowledge, anyone can try it. Also, thanks to technology anyone can record and produce music even with a very low budget which also means that there is more music being released today than ever before. It really is exhausting to think how much music is out there and so much of it is really good!
There’s absolutely no way that you won’t find something to your liking.
That being said, it is so easy to use technology nowadays to edit your playing and alter your sound into something that you haven’t thought about how you’ll play or recreate live. That to us is a big mistake as you can easily reassure yourself that you’ll fix it in the editing stage or in the mix when you actually haven’t played the part as well as you could. It is fun to use technology to our advantage but let’s not forget that we’re people who play music live.
Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?
Of course we do. Music is for so much more than just listening. It makes you feel things that no other medium can make you feel. It’s raw and pure emotion and it can be cathartic. When you haven’t had the best day, a small piece of lyric behind beautiful harmony can change that. When you’re happy, a happy song can amplify your feelings. It can simply get you in the right frame of mind when you want to accomplish goals. Music (as well as film) is one of the most powerful ways to deliver a message or story and (cliché aside) it really does bring people together because it is culturally universal, whether it is a 20-minute long progressive metal symphony or a 3 minute pop song.
What are your plans for the future?
We are currently writing songs for our first full-length album and there are a lot of exciting and new ideas! So many that some will have to go to the 2nd album or later releases. It is the first time the entire current line-up is in the same room composing music from scratch together so the result will be quite different from “Oceans of Time”. We’re also thinking about how we will release our LP and so far we have just been brainstorming ideas. When it comes to gigs, we have put that on hold right now as finishing our album is priority number one and we want it to be as good as it possibly can. However we’re always on the lookout for live shows that can get us exposure to more people (so far in Greece).
Thank you for having us and for the very nice questions!