As we mentioned when we premiered their new song, “A Day Dark With Night” (http://ghettoblastermagazine.com/2014/song-premiere-junius-a-day-dark-with-night/), Boston post-rock quartet Junius has been described by Rolling Stone as “a perfect hybrid of Neurosis and The Smiths.” On February 18, they release, Days Of The Fallen Sun, the highly anticipated follow-up to their groundbreaking 2011 release, Reports From The Threshold of Death. The band – consisting of vocalist/guitarist Joseph Martinez, guitarist Michael Repasch-Nieves, bassist Joel Mungia and drummer Dana Filloon – will release their new EP Days of The Fallen Sun via Prosthetic Records on February 18.
Since 2011 the band have toured throughout the U.S. and Europe with acts including Alcest, Enslaved, O’Brother, Katatonia and Caspian in addition to appearing at SXSW. They will next head out with labelmates Wolves Like Us in support of Long Distance Calling throughout Europe in February before returning to tour the U.S. with A Storm Of Light.
Ghettoblaster had the pleasure of catching up with Martinez and Repasch-Nieves to discuss the EP recently. This is what they had to say about it.
When did you begin writing the material for your most recent EP?
J. E. Martinez: We’ve been working on this album for a long time, it originally was supposed to come out after Martyrdom as a kind of companion piece, but we were sidetracked after the Prosthetic signing and had to put the EP on the back burner. It’s been about five years since we’ve started writing some of these songs.
M. Repasch-Nieves: We started some of this material during the writing of Martyrdom of a Catastrophist. Not to say that we were actually “working” on it the whole time… It was more that between touring and making the last album, it kept getting put aside. However, thematically, the EP serves as a sort of prequel to Martyrdom. Where Martyrdom focused more on the life of Immanuel Velikovsky, these songs chronicle the events—catastrophes—upon which his theories were based.
So that is the overarching concept behind the EP that ties the record together?
J. E. Martinez: On the surface it’s about the end of the world or the end of a civilization, but on a personal level it about dealing with the inevitable loss and tragedy that life has in store for all of us, but I always try to meet that tragedy with at least a little hope.
M. Repasch-Nieves: As I mentioned before, it’s kind of a prequel to Martyrdom of a Catastrophist. It’s inspired by the catastrophic theories of Immanuel Velikovsky as seen through the eyes of a prehistoric civilization in decline. “Battle in the Sky” is the apex of the catastrophic events, hence the most violent of the songs.
Who engineered and/or produced the record? What input did that/those people have that changed the face of the record?
J. E. Martinez: For starters, I noticed the production of this album pops out way more. It’s a much more “in your face” recording. Will Benoit really made us sound more like our live show.
M. Repasch-Nieves: The record was engineered by Daryl Rabidoux and co-produced by Will Benoit at the Radar Studio in Connecticut. As a team, those dudes are unstoppable and I think between the two of them, they know our band better than anyone. Daryl has an uncanny sense of tone that amazes me every time. We’ve worked with Will since the very beginning; in fact he was actually our first bassist, who wrote our first EP, Forcing out the Silence, with us. Since we had already released two of these songs in different forms previously, I really wanted these new recordings to stand apart, and for us the challenge has always been to try and capture some of the raw energy of our live sound, which I think they helped us achieve in a sense.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
J. E. Martinez: “Forgiving The Cleansing Meteor”, due to its length and lack of structure, that song was still being written while in the studio. I had a hard time trying to fill in the space lyrically and melodically.
M. Repasch-Nieves: “FTCM” for sure, though the end result ended up being the most surprising and perhaps most satisfying.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
J. E. Martinez: Probably “Forgiving the Cleansing Meteor” again, I originally planned for that song to be melancholic and sad. It’s the end of the world and you have to survive and rebuild civilization from nothing, you just watched everyone you love die and might have done some horrible things to survive and now you’re left alone with nothing. I had the basic music down, but no real structure and when Mike got into the studio with Will [Benoit, producer], they kind of remixed it and it came out with a pretty different vibe. There was now hope in the song, so I changed the end of it lyrically and melodically and gave it more of a “we will triumph” attitude. I think it came out alright.
M. Repasch-Nieves: Agreed. When we were going in the studio, “FTCM” was the one song I wasn’t totally sure about in its then current form, which at that point was a bit more straight-forward. While recording, our long time friend and touring drummer, Justin Forrest Trujillo, was hanging out in the studio with us for a few days and we had the idea to record some additional percussion, these sort of tribal war drums. Once that happened, I ended up re-editing the song a bit and it took on a different life. It’s now one of my favorite songs that we’ve done, if I’m allowed to say that, haha.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
M. Repasch-Nieves: Yes, in addition to Justin Forrest’s percussion on “Forgiving The Cleansing Meteor”, we also had friends join us for gang vocal parts on that song and “Battle in the Sky”, including Justin, Eric Jernigan (City of Ships), Zach Reynolds (Graveyard Lovers, Joel’s brother), and longtime friend Jason Crawford.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
J. E. Martinez: We’ve played “A Time of Perfect Virtue” and “A Day Dark with Night.” I’m not sure which one gets a better reaction. I think maybe “Time”?
M. Repasch-Nieves: Yeah, we’ve been playing “A Time of Perfect Virtue” for years, and it’s always been one of my favorite songs to play live and I think has always gotten a great response. We played “A Day Dark with Night” on at least one tour a couple of years ago, and I’m not sure if the epic-ness of it translated effectively—it’s a beast of a song. Maybe we’ll bring it back on our next touring cycle, since we’ve gotten a lot of requests from people to hear it live.
(Pre-order Days Of The Fallen Sun here: http://store.prostheticrecords.com/products/524533-junius-days-of-the-fallen-sun-cd-ep or http://junius-official.bandcamp.com.)