‘Sadistic shred metal’ | Interview with Jomo Tuun

With tight production, angular melodies and unorthodox rhythmic structures, this one is for those who are looking into powerful, virtuoso ,instrumental progressive metal. Read our discussion with the London based band Jomo Tuun.

Describe your sound in 3 words

SE – Sadistic shred metal.
OC – Rootin’. Tootin’. Shootin’.
JB – [Laughs] Drastic get rekt.

Tell us a few things about your debut album “One Tuun”. What is the main idea behind it?

JB – I’ve wanted to do a metal project for several years now and have been listening to metal since high school, mostly Tool, Karnivool, Cynic, progressive stuff. So, the point of Jomo Tuun is to create an opportunity to put our heaviest ideas into a project that accommodates them properly. I wanted to dive fully into this atmosphere and create the best thing we can. I’ve never worked on metal before so it was rewarding in a fresh sense as well.
OC – “One Tuun” is my first real step into recording metal, so it’s a debut in more ways than one. I wanted to start things off with a bang, and give it absolutely everything I had.
SE – For me, this first album was born out of a desire to make something new. The three of us all play in very different “main” bands, but we all have a mutual love for insane tricky music.

What’s more important? The song, or heaviness.

OC – I say the song, for sure. Heaviness is important but I see it as a sort of prerequisite with us. Add to that the fact that some tunes will naturally be less heavy than others.
JB – I think it’s definitely about the tunes overall but also depends what you mean by “heaviness”. In terms of genre and aesthetic, I guess we went for certain tonal palates. While writing, we always considered that this is a heavy project before committing to elements of the composition, so the heaviness feeds into the parts that way.
SE – Yeah, I’d say the weight of a piece of music usually comes more from the composition rather than the instrument tones or something gimmicky like drop tuning. It’s all in the rhythm. I tend to think that a band like Mountain has a heavier quality to it than a lot of “metal” bands. They’ve picked rhythms that throw you around the room, rather than just monotonously beating you around the head.

Tell us a few things about your creative process.

OC – The creative process has been a long and super fun one. Joe and I started in my parent’s lounge years ago, day drinking and playing covers of tunes like “Soul Sacrifice”. Then not much happened for a while… Fast forward a couple of years, and Sam and Joe had sent me these incredible demos, which were amazing (and more than a bit wild and tricky). Come recording time, I had some ideas of how I wanted the bass to sound, and some lines in mind, but most of the actual writing of the bass parts happened in the studio. I had complete free rein which was a joy, but it was a collaborative process too. I would sometimes try out a few different lines in a certain section and Sam, Joe and I would chat and think about which one might work best. Add into the mix the jobs of having to count what on earth the drums are doing, and mirroring blistering guitar lines, it was one hell of a recording experience.
JB – Definitely was! Studio recording with you [Oli] for the first time was awesome. Super fun, easy and endlessly creative. Me and Sam have worked on a few bits and bobs over the years so our side was very comfortable already. Chronologically, the creative process we took started with Sam recording lots of disconnected riff ideas on his phone. Me and him then got together a few times to try the riffs through various tunings before recording them into our project. In there we started sorting the riffs into groups, extending and combining them into sequences, and deciding on structure, until you have a complete tune layout established. Me and Sam then took a solid week to record drums. Drum parts were recorded section-by-section, so I’d play through each part a few times, find something that I liked and record it straight away without much analysis, with some exceptions where it got very complicated.
SE – It was a pretty weird start for the band because, up until recording, the three of us had never all been in the same room at the same time. But, as the others mentioned, we had a handful of demos that sounded pretty cool, and I think we all knew that if we could pull it off, we’d have a good album on our hands and I’d be able to scratch my riffy-prog itch!

Which is the biggest guitar riff you wish you have composed yourself? Also artists and people who have influenced and inspired you?

OC – That one from ‘Crying Clown’ by The Wytches. It’s basically been stuck in my head since I heard it months ago. Other influences include Bad Brains, Goat, Primus and the work of Goya, to name just a few. Also, for this album specifically, I’d say The Mars Volta, and fantasy stuff like DnD.
SE – I don’t really wish that I’d composed anyone else’s riffs because I’d probably have fucked It up some way. But I love bands like Budgie, Sabbath and UFO, before metal really became metal. The “mid-fi” of early metal albums really appeals to me, where the tape makes everything sound a bit fatter, but the mix hasn’t been worked to death. I think that comes through in our album, particularly the guitar tones. What I really wish I could do is compose the way Robert Fripp does. He comes out with some of the most demented pieces of music on Earth, but with a flow that pulls you along.
JB – I’d certainly like to think there’s some King Crimson vibes within this album, and The Mars Volta influence is definitely in there as well. Tool was probably the main energy I was aiming for in the drumming, but I also tried to incorporate some patterns inspired by Neil Peart’s work on 70s-80s Rush albums. Worth a try! Biggest riff… “Eat That Question”.

You mostly focus on instrumental music. Is the absence of vocals an extra challenge when it comes to promotion?

SE – It’s too early to tell. We have our first gig booked at Norwich Rock Festival in January 2022, and there’s a possibility of us going on tour later in the year, so from the promoter’s point of view we’re just another band on the line-up, vocals or not. The prog crowd are already used to a lot of instrumental music, but we’ll have to see if we can win over the mainstream rock/metal fans.
OC – The other guys have the answers when it comes to promotion to be honest. I basically just share the occasional post on social media. I haven’t found the lack of vocals to be an additional challenge though, honestly. I’ve had one person ask about vocals since we started promoting the record, but that’s it. Generally, people seem to be looking forward to the new music regardless. 
JB – It can definitely be a challenge to promote instrumental music to those that don’t choose to sit down and actively listen to music. In my experience, anyone that only listens to mainstream releases probably won’t easily connect to new music without words to latch on to. But those aren’t the people we’d promote this to anyway. Most serious music listeners don’t really consider it a major factor. Almost like saying, “is the absence of saxophone an extra challenge”?
OC – I actually think being an instrumental band helps us stand out, while also allowing us to focus entirely on what we’re playing. This might be more apparent when we play live next year than on the record but who knows.

What do you love/hate about London?

OC – I love the ethnic and cultural diversity, the huge variety of different, tasty food, and the fact there’s always a gig on. 
JB – Always a gig on! You can see top quality, creative musicians every night if you want. Definitely my top reason for living here besides work opportunities.
SE – I’m the odd one out in that I don’t live in London, but I love it whenever I visit. The amount of world-class music that passes through the city on a weekly basis is mind-blowing, especially for a Norwich-based boy like me. Norwich has its scene, though. There’s a huge amount of very creative, very talented people. The only problem is it can be tricky to break out of Norwich into London if you don’t have the connections already. What I hate about London is the beer prices – and the rent.
OC – Hate pints costing £5.50! I also love that you can get lost in a huge city, and that there’s always something new to see.

Are these days full albums still relevant? Do people still listen to full albums?

OC – Absolutely, yes to both. They’ll never become obsolete. Hopefully those aren’t famous last words…
SE – You could listen to our album in any order you want, really. It’s not a concept album that needs to be heard the way the artist intended. That said, there’s a certain amount of time we put into making the album flow in such a way. If you decide to listen like that, you’re going to get in our heads a little better and hopefully be more absorbed by the music.
JB – Yeah, I think there will always be music enthusiasts that want to experience music in that form, similar to the way you see a film. The scenes are in order suggested by the artist and there’s a journey and creative continuity to follow through the whole duration. It makes for a richer experience than watching a scene on its own. I only ever listen to individual tunes if they’re on a playlist at a party or something.
OC – I must admit that I don’t listen to albums from start to finish as often as I’d like, but when I do it’s an unparalleled experience.

Your biggest fear?

SE – Honestly, burnout. Music has always been my thing, so as I’ve got more serious about it, I’ve always had the worry that I might end up ruining it for myself.
JB – Probably wasting time.
OC – Death. And liquorice.

Thank you!

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