It seems crazy that Periphery have only just released their first-ever live album, especially given how tight of a band they really are. But with their November 15, 2019 London show now out for the world to hear in the form of Live In London, we spoke to vocalist Spencer Soleto about how it came together, what he wants for Christmas and more - scroll on for the full chat:
Hey Spencer, firstly congrats on finally having a live album under your belt - that must be a cool feeling!
Yeah definitely dude, we didn't even know it was happening and here we are!
Periphery must have played hundreds if not thousands of shows by this point. What was it about this particular gig in London that inspired the first Periphery live record?
Well here's the crazy thing, and that's like I said we didn't even know that was going to be a live record. We had talked about doing live records throughout the years in the past but we've always been kind of self-conscious and perfectionists, like "oh we don't know if we're tight enough to do it", so we just decided to never really do it.
But our sound guy Ronnie, who did the whole European tour with us, he recorded us every night multitracked just because he liked practicing to mix live audio, and he loved the way that show turned out and he thought it was tight enough. So he didn't even tell us he was doing it, but he mixed the entire thing front to back and sent it to us, and was like "hey, just so you guys know I mixed this and if you want to put it out you can".
So we were thinking like "ah fuck, well, there's probably gonna be a lot of mistakes and stuff", we didn't know we were being recorded and we were having a lot of fun that night. But then we all listened to it and there were a few mistakes here and there but it sounded pretty fucking good, so we decided to put it out.
Are you self-critical when you listen back to your own vocal performances? How would you rate your vocals on this out of 10?
I'd say for that would be like a 7.5 or an 8 out of ten. If I really was honing in on certain parts and not being goofy, or trying to go for things that are crazy, I probably could have nailed it a bit better. But I probnably notice those things more than the average listener probably would because it's me, and I'm critical of myself. But yeah I'm happy with the way it turned out honestly.
Mark (Holcomb, guitar) had left the tour before this show to be with his family, so were you a four piece on the night? How did that all work?
So we took the shows that Mark did play and like I said Ronnie had everything multitracked every night, so he had Mark's live performances from the first few shows of the tour and just took the best takes of each song from those different nights, and comped them altogether.
That's actually Mark playing live from that tour, it's just from different shows and he's obviously not on stage for the London show.
It's interesting that you guys decided to open every show on that tour with 'Reptile' given that it's 18-minutes long, where most bands would probably close the set with something like that instead. Were you worried when you wrote the setlist that it might not go over with fans?
Yeah, you know, there's always worries about things like that but after getting together and practicing it for the first time, we were like "oh fuck man, it just feels too good not to do it". And it's just such an epic build, I feel like it's a good way to grab somebody's attention and be like "okay, this is where the set's going".
It's a tough song to play, but for me personally I'd rather get the tough songs out of the way early in the setlist.
Is it easy for everyone in Periphery to agree on what a setlist should look like or is there a lot of back and forth before it's locked in?
Over the years everybody's kind of learned who wants what, and it's always really come down to me and Matt our drummer, and our stamina and longevity and working in good breaks or lulls in the set coming after songs that are very hard for us. That way we can catch our breath and so we're not running a marathon the entire time.
Are there any specific vocal warmups or rituals you do before playing to stay consistent every night?
Um, just standard stuff man, like falsetto warmups, major/minor scales, lip trills and vowel scales. Stuff like that!
It's cool, when you do those same scales after you've warmed up like that, to me the only equivalent I can describe it as is if you were running with weights on your feet, and then you take the weights off and you're like "oh shit, this is easy to run this fast". It almost makes it too easy to stay on the notes after that, it's cool.
Are there any plans for Periphery to make it back to Australia again when it's possible? It's coming up on almost four years since your last visit!
Has it really been that long? Oh my god...I think you're right...it was with Animals As Leaders, yeah? That would have been about four years ago. Dude that's crazy!
Yeah dude we're not planning on going anywhere as a band, I mean we're not going to break up just because of this whole pandemic - we're gonna wait it out as long as we have to, and as soon as things are safe for us to go back we're gonna travel the world like we were before!
You've obviously been keeping busy putting out the debut King Mothership album with Matt too, which is also a fantastic record, but has Periphery started working on a follow up to HAIL STAN yet or is the focus on other projects for now?
We have a lot of demos, pieces of songs and whatever that we haven't used in the past that we've been kind of sending around as a band recently, and getting ideas of which songs to focus on next time we get together. Just about a week ago we came up with the date when we're all going to do that and that's like mid-January.
So by mid-January when we get together and start working on stuff, we'll have a pretty clear idea of what the next release is gonna be.
Might be too early to say then, but has the plan always been to do Periphery V next or something more conceptual?
I'm not sure yet, there's been talks of a couple of types of different things that we could do and I guess it really just depends on the vibe of all of us when we're all in the same room and who's inspired by what.
Before we let you go, Christmas is around the corner and it's been a pretty shitty year all-round, so what are you hoping to get from Santa this year?
(laughs) I'm just really hoping that (Sony) Playstation releases more PS5s so that I can be my own Santa and buy one! On the release day I tried going on all the sites at the times you were supposed to be there, and I actually had one in my cart from Walmart but by the time I'd finished filling out my card information to pay for it and actually hit pay, it took it right out of my cart.
That's brutal man, it seems a lot of people are in the same boat trying to snag one. So now that we know you're into gaming, have you ever thought about starting up your own Twitch channel?
I never really have, man, not that I wouldn't do it but I guess I've just been using my time for other things this year. Maybe if I get some downtime where I'm not working doing studio stuff, then I might think about it. I know Misha (Mansoor) does it and he loves it.
Thanks so much for your time Spencer - good luck getting a PS5 and congrats again on the album!
Thanks for the chat dude!
Listen to Periphery - 'Live In London' now.