Can you share the story behind the formation of Fraught and how the members from different bands came together to create this new entity?
Fraught was formed in 2018. Each of us have been involved in the Irish music scene for a long time with many of us playing in past bands together or on the same lineup as bands that the other’s were in. So we were all well acquainted with each other far before the band formed. At the time, each of us had finished up playing with our previous bands and had taken a step back from playing music but all had the internal itch to create something new, something heavier, than what we had been involved with before. The idea was put out there with the understanding that we would not set boundaries on our creativity but instead let the tracks flow naturally and not feel pressured to create in a certain style. Each of us was behind this idea and so it was a pretty natural step forward to form the band and begin writing the first demo.
Can you discuss the themes and stories behind some of the tracks on Transfixed on Dying Light, and how they connect to the overall narrative of Fraught’s music?
Generally speaking, we prefer not to reveal too much about the themes and back stories, but instead let the listener decide what they hear in or can take from each song. This way we avoid the listener having any preconceived notions about the songs and they can approach them with an open mind. However, the tracks deal with a wide range of topics such as personal struggles and grief, to a lot of frustrations generated by what was going on in the world at the time we wrote the album. The underlying theme throughout is based on the subject that as a species, humans are mesmerized or captivated by the idea of the end of life or the end of the world, which is represented in this case by a dying light or a dying flame. You can imagine the image of a person staring into a fire or a candle, just waiting on the end.
How did the rebranding process influence your identity and creative direction?
It didn’t. The renaming or rebranding occurred out of necessity to avoid confusion with another band of the same name. Although it was frustrating to have to change the name, ultimately we are the same people creating the same music we would have done under the previous name. Given we were a relatively new band when the name change occurred, it didn’t take much for us to rebuild our identity, which has been strengthened with each release since.
How did Fraught adapt during CV-19 period, and did the pandemic impact your creative process in any significant way?
If anything it probably influenced the creativity in a positive way, which is probably the opposite of what happened to a lot of people. While it meant we were forced to cancel shows and take a step back, it actually gave us more time to focus on writing “Transfixed on Dying Light” and informed a lot of the emotions on the album. We were already a band that was used to recording demos at home and sharing with the group before rehearsing, so this gave us more time to do that, more time to hone in on each riff and each arrangement to make sure it was the best representation of the song that it could be. We never really stopped rehearsing, only at the height of local lockdowns, so it meant that once those were lifted we were well rehearsed and ready to not only play live again, but also to record the album.
Can you elaborate on the emotions and themes that inspire your lyrics and compositions?
Similar to a previous question, we prefer not to reveal too much. Each release varies in terms of overall themes that inspire them and serve as a reference point for the emotions being felt at the time. We’re influenced by a wide range of subjects but also a wide range of art forms, not only from music, but also movies, documentaries, books and paintings, so what ends up as the final form on each release is our interpretation of all of those things amalgamated together. If we were to pick some examples of emotions across the releases then our demo was probably most inspired by a sense of gloom and mournfulness, “Splitting Tongues” was definitely a more aggressive release fuelled more by anger and frustration, whereas “Transfixed on Dying Light” is definitely a mix of both of those with an added sense of dread and hostility.
What role does improvisation play in Fraught’s creative process, especially during live performances?
Do you find that spontaneity adds an extra layer to your music? Throughout the creation of the songs we would definitely utilise a lot of improvisation to inform where the song is going to go. Normally we will start with a set of riffs or rhythmic ideas and try to record as much of the song or idea as we can prior to rehearsals. This helps us prepare and make the most of our time together. Once we get in the room however, we tend to improvise as a group to take the song into a new direction or to feel out certain sections. The same is true with recording, we often improvise and add extra layers or extra instruments or noise to create ambience in the tracks. Live it’s a different story as we tend not to improvise live but instead be a well rehearsed unit that can give 200% on stage each time and deliver the best performance we can. We’ve received a lot of great feedback from those that have caught us live stating that we are one of the tightest bands they have seen live and this can only come from being well prepared and well rehearsed.
How do you balance experimentation with maintaining a signature sound that fans can identify with?
At the moment experimentation is probably what gives us a “signature sound” if we have one. We started the band with the idea to remove the guardrails or boundaries to creativity and instead just write whatever we wanted to hear, letting the individual songs twist and turn into whatever form they eventually take. As a result of this the songs, riffs and arrangements don’t always go where a listener would expect them to go, slowing down when the expected thing is to speed up or going more intense when the obvious thing to do is to slow down and bring the song to a conclusion. With each track we always try to push ourselves both creatively and also technically to deliver something we haven’t done before experimenting with the sounds and textures of death metal and sludge mixed with the atmosphere of black metal. Ultimately this blend of experimentation and a wide variety of influences is what gives us our own sound.
Are there any specific artists, albums, or events that have had a profound influence on Fraught’s musical journey and the direction you’ve taken as a band?
It would be very hard to list specific artists that have influenced us as we all have a huge variety of favourite artists or favourite albums. Our common ground is that we are all huge fans of death metal, black metal, doom and sludge so each of us brings a different element of those to the table and weaves it into our sound and direction. The other thing that has probably influenced us a lot is actually our own past experiences in bands. We’ve all learned a lot from those experiences as we’ve each been playing in bands since very young ages so we’ve learned what to do and what not to do. This probably helped us to set a direction for the band from the very beginning more so than a particular album or artist.
How do you navigate the challenges of the music industry and stay true to your artistic vision?
We’re still operating on a relatively small level so we’re probably not affected by the same level of challenges as some bigger bands especially on the financial commitment side. For us, the biggest challenge is getting our name out there and getting the opportunity to play more shows to new audiences. Given Ireland is an island, it’s physically and financially more difficult for us to get abroad to play to new audiences, which in turn means it’s harder to reach new people with the music. However our artistic vision was never to be a new “Metallica” or anything at that level, we enjoy doing what we do and create the music for ourselves first and foremost so any opportunity we get beyond that is a bonus. We also try to keep a close group of people we work with artistically so that we ensure that everything we put out, be it merch or posters etc is all aligned with our vision to the best we can. But if there is anyone reading this that is interested in having us come and play a show, please get in touch as we would welcome the opportunity.
How do you maintain a strong collaborative spirit within Fraught, and how do different band members contribute to the creative process?
It’s simple, we make sure everyone’s voice is heard and that everyone gets their say before an idea is finalised. Usually we will start with a guitar riff or a drum idea, but before a song is complete it will go through many iterations with each member giving feedback and shaping the direction for the track. We all contribute to the music and arrangements, we all contribute to the lyrics and we all contribute to the song titles, so everyone has an input into the process.
How important is fan interaction and feedback in shaping your future projects and performances?
What is important to us is leaving an impact on people, be it those that have seen us live and are impressed with the amount of energy we put into a show or those that enjoyed and will remember our releases. Obviously it’s great to get feedback, especially when it’s largely positive, which thankfully it has been to date, but ultimately we try to please ourselves first and would not go against our own direction or ambitions just because we got some feedback we didn’t like. So even though it’s important to us that we leave an impact, we equally don’t get too caught up in the feedback and instead focus on being true to ourselves and moving forward with our next goal.
Looking ahead, what can fans expect from Fraught?
Our new album “Transfixed on Dying Light” comes out on 24th November 2023 via Argonauta Records. We will have some new merch available in support of the album and we are currently in the process of booking shows across 2024. At present our next show is alongside Venomous Concept when they play Dublin in January 2024 but we will be announcing plenty more shows in due course. We are also well into the process of writing our next release which will hopefully see the light of day in 2024. Thanks for checking us out.
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