NRP Interview: Paul Masvidal of CYNIC

Nefarious Realm: What’s new in the world of CYNIC?

Paul Masvidal: Well we have the PORTAL (The Portal Tapes) stuff coming out in March. We are re-releasing those demos so we kind of just got over that hump of prepping and delivering that release. And we got back right at the end of the year from the last tour from Europe. So January has been a transitional month of shifting for me, where I live. I’m still in the same house but, everyone moved out. I am in this mode of re-sorting my living situation and my home studio. The focus right now for Sean and I is just to get the new album done and delivered by the summer. I think it’s totally doable. The material is done, it’s just a matter of mining it for production, getting it done. Sean and I are just starting to jam. We have been jamming on and off maybe the last three to four weeks. And we are just getting to just really flushing out what will be our new full length. And it’s coming along. I’m really excited about that. That’s where my focus has been. Other than that it’s just doing the usual stuff I do to make a living which is numerous TV and Film gigs as a musician working in this town. I wear numerous hats. But the focus is to get the record delivered because I feel like there is a sense of momentum right now. It is really just a matter of budgeting my time in order to get it done. That’s it. Make the album happen!

Nefarious Realm: Are the PORTAL demos being released different than the album you sold on tour a few years ago?

Paul Masvidal: The only difference is that it was remastered. Sonically I think it t sounds a lot better and the packaging is more elaborate.

Nefarious Realm: I feel like the PORTAL demos have lived in the imagination of fans for a long time. Did you over see the entire remastering process?

Paul Masvidal: Yeah. We got a guy that we know that we just chose. He’s a friend of Sean’s and we met him on tour. He had the stuff, really got into and tweaked it. I think we’ve got it as good as we could get.

These we demos that were made very quickly in fifteen to seventeen years ago. In 1994-95 we made that. They were pre-production demos so they were pretty raw and were never intended to come out. The stuff is really polished. This stuff sounds really good considering how quickly it was done and the conditions. Just made in some little studio in Miami where we just busted it out. It sounds really great and in hindsight I’m like wow! I can only imagine what the record would have sounded like if we really made the record. It does have a magic quality because it is a demo. It was never intended to be heard by anybody except us and the record company. It makes sense to me now in a way. I think it fills the gaps between Focus and Traced In Air. It will be really informative for the fans. There are the hardcore people who have known about for a while in the forums and other places on the web. But for the next wave of our fans, just discovering it for the first time they will get a lot out of it. They will totally trip on it, because it is technically a CYNIC release, but it totally sounds so different from anything we have done. But it also connects the dots in a weird way.

Nefarious Realm: Do you think the EP format is more digestible for fans nowadays?

Paul Masvidal: Oh yeah! I even ran around saying that this next release might be two EP’s in a bundle which is still possible. Especially since we are in the day an age where everything is in an mp3 format, unless you are a vinyl person. I think with more progressive music, EPs makes everything easier to digest. It makes it easier for fans to consume. When a prog band puts out a record with fifteen or even ten songs, stuff gets lost. Half of them get lost in the shuffle. I’m not in to fluff, throw away tunes. I want every song to be masterful. I want everything to count. I want everything to be concise and tight.

I think for me as a musician and an artist it is more digestible for me, since making a CYNIC record is all consuming for me and just takes over my life. I’m just busy making vital decisions. It is overwhelming to think about the process actually. I think I could spend a lifetime on an album doing that if I could. (laughs) There are also a lot of artists these days just putting whatever they make. They are kind of releasing everything they puke. (laughs) They think just because ‘I made this, I will share it’. A lot of it is kind of junk. In this day and age, and I can’t believe I’m even saying this because I am still quality over quantity but everyone is waking up and reading their news feeds on Facebook or whatever. We are just completely becoming cyborgs! (laughs) We are absorbing a lot more information than before. I feel like as an artist if you can just make good shit and put it in a good package, that is enough. One of the things I was thinking about earlier today that CYNIC has so much material that will never see the light of day that has been recorded like demos and demos. I have to make sure I throw this stuff away or burn it all before I die. I need to destroy a lot of this stuff. (laughs) You hear all the time about what happens to artists in the post-human world that their music comes out that they never wanted to be heard.

Nefarious Realm: That sounds a lot like PRINCE who supposedly has tons of finished songs in a vault somewhere.

Paul Masvidal: There is sooo much stuff, but I just don’t want everybody to hear it. It’s one of those things. You have standards and you want things to sound a certain way. Sometimes like Carbon Based Anatomy was so spontaneous and it just came together in six weeks. Other times things are worked on forever are very polished. Songs have a life of their own and they just happen when they happen. I heard MICHAEL JACKSON also compiled music for years and years to release at a later time.

Nefarious Realm: Carbon Based Anatomy has some really stellar thematic guitar stuff going on. Was it all created on the spot?

Paul Masvidal: It was pretty gut driven. We definitely tear things apart and put them back together. We felt like we didn’t really have time to do that this time with this stuff. That record really captures a moment in time. It’s just a snapshot of that summer and even the year before. It’s so interesting. And it stands as it its own record in the CYNIC catalog, regardless of the semantics of EP or album. It’s a real piece, like a painting. Everything was really spontaneous and free. Of course there were more ethereal sound scape-y things that we wove around the songs. One of the songs “Carbon…” itself has a history. It was written as a demo fir ÆON SPOKE. It was very dark and it wasn’t really ready to be released ever. All of the sudden it came up again. We were jamming and I remembered ‘oh I like this song.” I feel like CYNIC’s music is like that. We are constantly pulling from a catalog to make a record and always refining it as well as always wring and developing new music. A lot of the demos are written on an acoustic, before they make it to a record. I’m really excited about this new record, because I am already hearing something really cool and different. It’s still CYNIC, but its totally unexpectedly new. Luckily we are one of the bands that probably the weirder we get, the more our fans like it.

Nefarious Realm: Whats on tap as far as touring in the near future?

Paul Masvidal: No. None. That is intentional. We are laying low and focusing on being locals in L.A. where we live. Really just settling into a groove. They have suggested some touring for us over the summer, but I was worried it was going to be right in the middle of the recording process and interrupt. Now we are not looking at anything until the end of the year, if that. We are just focused on making a great record

Nefarious Realm: Do you ever reflect about you and Sean being some of the guys really responsible for bringing the progressive movement into metal.

Paul Masvidal: Well it was one of those things that we weren’t even planning or anything. We were just a bunch of kids in the process, as we still are. We were just trusting our instincts. We were kind of stubborn about it. We weren’t getting any love. We had a little bit of critical acclaim, but for the most part not even the record company was like ‘what the fuck is this shit?’ And ‘what the hell are you doing!” I remember Roadrunner (Records) getting the album, they didn’t know we introduced the Vocoder and other things and they were totally confused. I’ve said this before that it is a testimony to believing and trusting yourself. Maybe I had arrived at this at a very young age, but through writing and practicing so much at a young age there was already a voice established with Focus. There was a language that was there. As a debut record it really had something, it had some legs. It’s really cool that we had so many things that delayed making that record and they were all kind of weird little blessings that helped us mature and grow up and make a great record. But I have no clue really. You just do what you do and hope for the best. I don’t even know what I am doing now, I’m just doing it. That is really what is so miraculous about this process. We would never say we are in control of the process. It is completely mysterious and weird. You are just kind of hurling yourself into the unknown. You just trust enough in yourself that it will work out. Fortunately I had a peculiar enough sense as a musician. A peculiar combination of a drummer who I have had an interesting, life long relationship with. We just have a weird telepathic way of communicating. Not a lot of talking, but just playing and nodding our heads. It’s very interesting. I’m amazed! I’m amazed and pretty much in awe of being alive and being able to do this. It’s pretty fun.

Nefarious Realm: Thanks for your time Paul! We look forward to the record and we hope to see you on the road next year!

Paul Masvidal: Right on! Thanks so much and good chatting with you buddy!