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Gavin Brown Takes On Guiltless – Debut EP “Thorns” due February 23rd via Neurot Recordings | Release & Interview Special

February 20, 2024
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Gavin Brown Interviews Guiltless

Debut EP “Thorns” due February 23rd 2024

via Neurot Recordings

Guiltless are a new band whose lineup consists of Billy Graves (drums), Dan Hawkins (guitar/noise), Sacha Dunable (bass) and Josh Graham (guitar/vocals/noise), and those members have been in the storied likes of of A Storm of Light, Intronaut, Generation of Vipers, and Battle of Mice.

The music of Guiltless is harsh and dystopian and the cathartic nature of it is extremely powerful and perfect for the state of the world today, and this is personified on the band’s debut EP Thorns which is out this Friday February 23rd.

Ahead of the release of Thorns, Gavin Brown caught up with Josh Graham to hear all about how Guiltless started, band influences and what we can expect from them in the future.

How did Guiltless start as a musical project in the first place?

The initial ideas started with Billy and I talking about doing a heavier project together in the summer of 2022. We then played Desertfest in Antwerp with IIVII, our cinematic experimental project, and that experience really pushed the idea forward – heavy / focused / minimalist / post punk / doom. As Billy was finalizing the upcoming Generation of Vipers record I continued to work on ideas, then approaching Dan and Sacha to be part of the project.

Have you all wanted to work together making music for a while?

I have previously played with both Dan and Billy in different iterations of A Storm of Light. Billy was in the band for close to ten years, and Dan and I have played together off and on since we were 15.  Storm toured with Intronaut about 12 years ago, sharing a sprinter van for a whirlwind European / UJK tour with Ghost Brigade, and have been friends ever since. We weren’t sure if Sacha had time, with the success of both Intronaut and Dunable Guitars, but fortunately for us, he was very much into the music and the idea of collaborating.

You are shortly going to be bringing out your first release, the Thorns EP. How excited are you to be getting it out there?

As with every release, there’s always excitement and nervous energy. At this point in my music “career,” I generally have a cautious optimism. Haha!

How did the creation and recording for Thorns go and was it a smooth process?

The recording process for this EP was a completely different experience than any of us had experienced. We all individually recorded our parts at our own rehearsal spaces in 4 different states. The writing process was entirely done through file trading.   From there, I mixed the record and Brad Boatright from Audio Siege did an amazing and customized mastering job, where he was working with stem layers I had exported.  Given that I am not a recording/mixing engineer, this process gave Brad a bit more control over my mixes. 

Initially, we had planned for these recordings to essentially work as a demo – where we would then record a full-length album before releasing them; however, Neurot responded really well to the overall quality and suggested we just get this out into the world ASAP, rather than wait for the typical process to unfold, which would have pushed a first release into 2025.

Was making this EP a cathartic experience at all?

The creative process is always cathartic, be it design work or art, film scores, ambient music or doom music, etc. It’s all about solving your own riddles and trying to pull your best ideas and sounds out of the air, so to speak.

With so much experience in making extreme music, how important was it for each member to bring that experience to the table for Guiltless?

All four of us have so much varied musical experience, so I don’t think of any of us as extreme music players.  I have played in Red Sparowes, Battle of Mice, A Storm of Light, IIVII, etc, Billy has played in US Christmas, Generation of Vipers, IIVII etc, Dan releases black metal albums and ambient synth music as well. Sacha’s journey with Intronaut has been impressive to say the least, and the recent albums are musical masterpieces, complex time signatures and vocal harmonies, etc.  For Guiltless, to accomplish our overall goal with this EP, it was more about taking our individual experiences and distilling those into something that is collectively unique, and in this case definitely heavy.

What has the reaction to the music you have brought out so far been like?

So far it has been really great, far surpassing our expectations. Of course, most people have not heard the full EP, so we’ll see what happens.

Thorns is coming out as a physical release as well, do you feel this is especially important in this day and age?

That’s a great question, I have no idea really. Of course for collectors, the physical product is the most important element. For the general public, I don’t know how much it matters these days. The physical products we are making right now are all extremely limited edition.  We ordered blank black paperboard sleeves for each configuration, CD, Cassette and LP, and I am personally stamping / spray painting / wheat pasting the artwork onto the packages. I haven’t done anything like this since I was a kid, so it’s a cool experiment.

Is Neurot Recordings the perfect label to release your music?

Yes definitely. I have been involved with Neurosis (as the visual artists for 12 years) and Neurot for about 24 years. Steve Von Till is family at this point, and it’s great to be back on the label. I can’t think of anywhere else any of us would have wanted to put this release out on.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on the sound of Guiltless?

We made a playlist on Spotify that showcases a lot of the influences for this project (on our artist page – Imminent Collapse) – stuff that comes to mind now – Kiss It Goodbye, Godflesh, Swans, Meshuggah, Discharge, Melvins.

Did you always want to have such a foreboding feeling to the music that Guiltless make? 

Yep. This band started as and will always be the definition of foreboding.

Do you feel that the music of Guiltless is the perfect soundtrack to the chaos that has and continues to engulf the world?

I think that is really up to the listener.  Our music and lyrics are a reaction to our modern times, that is for sure.  They delve into possible futures that we hope will not unfold, but look entirely possible.  While I was growing up as a weird alternative kid in Phoenix, music helped me with my own anxieties –  punk, metal, post-punk, goth etc.  Given the fact that there were so many artists out there, coping with their own issues, creating art and music to get them through their unique situations, made me feel better, and even made me feel part of something larger.  While Guiltless can be the soundtrack for decline of our modern era, it can also work as an emotive outlet or as a cathartic escape – something to scream along with in your car while you’re stuck in traffic.

Have you had thoughts about a full-length Guiltless album at all and when might that be expected to come out?

Yes. We are working on the full length now, and it will be out in 2025.

Have you got plans for any live dates and how do you feel that your your music will translate in a live setting?

This band was definitely built for live shows, and we’re all looking forward to playing live.  I suspect the shows will have some more experimentation, and ultimately be heavier in person. Ideally, we want to play some festivals and expand the audience that way, before getting into a club tour, but as always, we’ll see what opportunities present.

Who are your favourite live acts and ones that you would love Guiltless to be as powerful as?

The Spotify playlist i mentioned is a great example of our favorite heavy acts as it may specifically relates to Guiltless…we listen to so many different types of music.  As far as being as powerful as another band, that’s not really our concern.  Inner focus is key here, specifically how we can present the music as best as possible live. 

What have the member’s other musical projects got coming up in 2024?

I know Intronaut is working on a new album, and Generation of Vipers has a new record coming out as well – I am not totally sure if those will be out in 2024, but that’s what’s on the horizon! Thanks for the interview!

Thank you so much Josh, we are wishing all the best for the release this Friday, so exciting!

Words: Gavin Brown

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