Progressive alternative metal act KOSM will be releasing their debut full-length album "Cosmonaut" this year, but have already released a few singles from it, including "Ancient Heart" and "Space Mead", among others following suite. Drummer Sterling Paterson is the one to do the discussion chatter, about these single's, the album's progress and plans ahead.
1. Please tell us about the history of your band and its members.
Sterling: KOSM is formed from the members of 3 different North Vancouver progressive metal bands. The (bad) joke is we're secretly a super group from North Van, but you just never heard about any of us! Before we had formed our singer Jessie was playing in the prog rock/metal band 'Maya', and Erik and Mike (Guitarists) were playing in the Progressive metal group 'Slow Wave Saga'. Sterling (drums) was playing with the instrumental prog rock/metal group 'Faise' as well. Sterl and Jessie knew each other through the grapevine through mutual friends, but never really jammed or anything, but would run into each other at shows here and there.
Eventually as time moved on, both Maya and Slow Wave Saga started to lose steam and break apart due to life, various people going to school, member changes, etc, and Sterl's band Faise wasn't getting much traction at the time during the 3 years he was with them. Around 2014, both Maya and Slow Wave were basically on permanent hiatus, so Erik and Mike started writing and doing pre-production on what would be our upcoming album.
Even without a full band, they just wanted to set a hard goal for themselves to make something that they were proud of. They didn't really know what direction it'd be taking or where it would go, but it was something they kept on the backburner and worked at it over a solid couple of years.
As the songs continued to be formed, the idea was being thrown around for Jessie singing for it, since she had been practicing to get her screaming techniques down so she could be more versatile as a metal vocalist. They threw it out to her and three of them started to loosely work on the album together.
Around mid 2016, Sterl was wanting to branch out and start a new band so he gave Jessie a shout with an idea he had, and she returned with "Well, if you're interested, my band needs a drummer". Or, to be more accurate, as she put it: "Sterling is looking for a band...and my band is looking for a drummer...*Lightbulb* HEY WAIT A SECOND THIS COULD WORK"!
So they scheduled an audition and instantly clicked - we jammed what is the new music video now (ancient heart) and another one off the album called "Wolves Upon the Throne". Initially, before we found Michael (bass), Mike's brother Mark was playing bass with them, but decided music wasn't for him and wanted to focus on another career. So we took to craigslist hilariously enough and found Michael through there.
He was playing with a cover band at that point and wanted to do some heavier projects, so in similar fashion, he auditioned and we clicked quite quickly. We completed the lineup around October 2016, and played (and nearly sold out) our first show at the Studio Records on Granville street in February 2017!
2. Where did the idea for the name KOSM come from and does it stand for anything as far as initials?
Sterling: KOSM came from Erik and Jessie really liking H.P Lovecraft, Bloodborne, and all that occult/horror stuff. Erik especially was a huge fan of Bloodborne and loved the Character Kos/Kosm and thought it'd be a cool name for a band.
We just googled the name profusely to make sure it wasn't taken by anyone, and luckily it wasn't, so we went for it and made it the new name. As far as everyone thinking it's an acronym or initials for something, Erik liked the logo look with it capitalized. It's honestly just Kosm!
It is 150% Erik's fault that we're going to have to answer this question for the rest of our music career now!!!!
3. You have just released your first video from your recent single "Ancient Heart", can you tell me a little about the single and video's concept and appeal?
Sterling: For "Ancient Heart", it's a piece of the story of the concept album we're creating. The main idea within the narrative of it is the protagonist has gained through his experiences, the ability to commune with the outer god Yog-Sothoth - the personification of the space-time continuum.
The protagonist is endowed with an Ancient Heart of a great elder god, and for better or worse, transcends the human boundary to become something greater than what their corporeal form could ever allow.
For the video's concept and look, we tried to emulate that idea as best we could with what we had. It's pretty out there so it took some thinking outside the box to put that idea down to a picture when we're in the DIY stages of the band.
Our biggest obstacle we had to overcome was, with anything horror related that is hilariously low on budget, to nail the aesthetic without making it look corny.
We definitely wanted to retain that appeal of the dark magic and horror vibe with the song narrative without going too far out of left field; So for example, those shots with Jessie looking all gored out was the 'elder god' version of her coming into existence more or less, which is in the spirit of the story of the concept and song narrative.
Since the music video is a once off compared to the entire story of the album, we did have to tweak some of the ideas to better suit it as a standalone thing. A lot of it revolves around Jessie/the protagonist finding the necronomicon and it causing those changes and hallucinations - over all we're super happy how it turned out considering what we had to work with!
4. What about the other single titled "Space Mead", will that receive a video as well or just remain a single as is so to speak?
Sterling: In regards to "Space Mead", we were thinking about keeping that one as a single, but we're bouncing around ideas of making another music video for eventually the third single or another song off the album!
"Space Mead" is a pretty straight ahead tune, so we're weighing out which songs we feel would be the most approachable as a whole, and then deciding on which song would make a great second music video. Progressive Metal is such a niche genre so we want to try to lure in as much of a general audience as we can before we hit them over the head with too many odd meters and musical nonsense hahaha!
5. Will both of these singles be coming off your debut full-length album "Cosmonaut"?
Yes! Both singles will be on the full album, and the mixes will be even better too!
6. Where are you in the recording process of the new album?
Sterling: Currently all the drums, guitar, and all but one song are done with bass. We're halfway done with vocals, but as I write this, we'll be in the studio again doing more vocals tomorrow so we should be wrapped up with everything by end of March!
We're very lucky in the sense that both Mike and Myself (Sterl) are audio engineers so we've been doing this entire thing ourselves. I can whole heartedly admit I can't even touch Mike when it comes to audio engineering since he is infinitely better at it than I am, so I act as a second in command and do some of the tedious stuff to help speed things up where applicable.
7. Who is producing the album? How has the producer aided the recording process?
Sterling: Mike has been the one producing as well as spearheading the recording on the album. Saying we're grateful to have him is an understatement - he's always coming up with ideas on how to improve the songs overall and knows how to tweak things just the right way to create that clean and articulate sound you hear on the singles.
Mike has an ear for that really clean, Hi-Fi, well rounded but punchy sound and that has translated to how our sound is formed. We all do have input on it, but Mike is the one who touches everything last. The entire creative process is attributed to everyone in the production of the album though - it's truly a team effort from everyone.
8. What label will be releasing the album?
Sterling: Currently no label! We're doing this all ourselves, but it'd be stellar to one day get on a bigger independent metal label like the groups we really admire. We all really do believe that we need to be as self sustainable as possible before going for a label. It's a two way street.
9. How would you describe the overall sound of the new album?
Sterling: The sound overall is dynamic, powerful and takes you on a journey. There's something in there for everyone, since the band itself isn't afraid to write something heavy in one song and move into a ballad-esque type song in the next.
10. Did the band have any definitive goals they were shooting for before the recording process began for this album?
Sterling: To have the tracking all finished by December 2016/early 2017. Boy did we screw that one up. Now some of the local bands that know us are literally making jokes or memes about them releasing their LPs/EPs before us! We totally had it coming though!!!!
11. Are you using any new instrumentation you've never used in the recording process before?
Sterling: In all honesty, not so much, this album by all standards was just us doing us. We did re-introduce backing vocals with Mike and Erik since they both can sing and accompany Jessie really well, and Michael is using his upright bass for the introduction for one of our songs, but outside of that it's very much keeping things simple and straight forward. The crazy ideas are all being reserved for the second album truth be told - I know I'm planning to involve some steel drums and darbuka in it that's for sure.
12. When did you start writing for this album?
Sterling: Writing initially started around 2014, and some of the songs that are on there were already written and re-written when this band was formed too. One of the tracks on the album called "Colossus" is an updated and re-tweaked version of a Slow Wave Saga song called "From the Earth" as an example! There's actually one other Slow Wava Saga we're bouncing around that could be a fun once off to update and re-release since it's a killer prog-metal tune. It's about Bioshock. And Erik used to sing it!
13. Did you feel any pressure whatsoever about writing and recording for this debut album?
Sterling: Oh hell yes I did. Here's my story: When I joined KOSM as their new drummer, they had the studio already booked just shy of two months down the road.
They were musicians I truly did admire, and still do, so I didn't want to screw it up. I felt like I had been accepted into a group with people who really had their stuff together, so I wanted to drive that work ethic even harder than it was before, not drag it down.
I had the insurmountable task of writing and perfecting drum parts for an 11 song progressive metal album within that time to be ready to track, because time only allotted us a weekend to actually track the drums too in a professional studio. It was either you do it, or you find someone who can, and I was hell bent on pulling it off. As you can hear from those two singles, they're detailed songs, so I couldn't BS my way around any of it. On top of practicing twice a week with the band, and holding down my 9 to 5, I gave up every spare hour I could, pushed through exhaustion and fatigue, stopped working out, and gave up every extra comfort I had in order to make that deadline.
On weekdays where there was a rehearsal, I'd come home, ignore making dinner, play, then pick up food on the way to practice, and then sleep. I would go as far as to ask my mom to prepare meals for me in advance so I could squeeze in that extra 30 minutes to an hour in the day - every minute counted.
On days without rehearsal, I'd put in as much time as could be allowed, and on weekends I'd play on average 4 to 6 hours a day. I didn't stop. Then during tracking, day 1 was around 13 hours, and day 2 was around 12 hours - We did all the drums for the entire album in two days flat and finished at 1am Sunday night/Monday morning! As I said, there was no excuse to not get it done - I HAD to finish tracking by the end of day, so failure wasn't an option.
I know Michael when he joined us felt the pressure too that we all were really serious about this project, and he had said a few times that he felt he really had to up his game to stay at our level of musicianship. It shows though! He's an amazing bass player and the things he's pulling out and playing he couldn't have done a year ago!
Jessie is feeling the pressure a bit too, since budget and time wise, while we do have the luxury of hammering out vocal takes in our practice space, which is (shockingly) amazing to record in there, we want to get as much as we can done when we're in an actual studio, so she pulls super long days when we're in there. One of the greatest traits about this band is that when it's nose to the grindstone, everyone one of us dives in head first, and we're all there to support one another through the whole process.
14. When can we expect the new album to be released?
Sterling: No definitive date on release, but the goal is either summer or fall this year!
15. What does 2018 have in store for the band?
Sterling: 2018 has been an explosion for us. Every single time we think something else that won't completely blow our minds at how fast this band is moving won't happen, it does. We're so grateful for all the opportunities that have been coming our way! Truly! We're just giving it our all and are absolutely floored by the support that is starting to erupt for this band. I think for all of us, we just want to inspire musicians to go for it, like how the people we're inspired by did.
As of now, we're lined up to play the Wacken Metal Battle in Vancouver on March 11th, and hopefully will be advancing to further rounds there. Not counting the chickens before they hatch, but depending on how things go, we may be playing shows in Calgary, Toronto and maybe even Germany.
We'll see what happens - even if we don't move further than the first round it's so flattering that we were even considered for the first round. We've only been gigging for a year - we're about as green as it gets! As well, we're beyond excited to play the Metalocalypstick Fundraiser on March 31st, and then follow that with opening up for Sirenia and Threat Signal on April 18th.
As well, we're playing Metallion Festival in August, and, while I can't announce it currently, there's one more festival we're confirmed for. Nothing planned for fall outside of a tentative album release party, but by the way things have been going, I'll hope we can continue to pack more shows, releases, and other exciting stuff for the future!