Two years after their debut, Tau Cross return with Pillar Of Fire. The band’s lineup, which includes vocalist Rob “The Baron” Miller (ex-Amebix) and drummer Michel “Away” Langevin (Voivod) are scattered across the globe. Miller fills us in on the recording of the new album, tour plans, his take on the “supergroup” moniker and other topics.
Chad Bowar: How did the songwriting process for Pillar Of Fire compare to your debut?
Rob “The Baron” Miller: We kind of kept on the same lines with this one, mainly uploading ideas into a shared Dropbox and then interpreting them. Andy (Lefton, guitar) and Jon (Misery, guitar) contributed songs this time around, which has been great. It stretches me a little bit more to have to work around someone else’s ideas.
With an album under your belt, was the multi-national recording process easier to navigate this time around?
I suppose so. We were used to the set up, which was initially a necessity. It seems to be a good way to bridge the gap between countries and get the songs written. It seems quite odd that two albums in we have never been in a studio together, so I would imagine that will be the logical next step, a big pause and reflection exercise.
How did you decide on Pillar Of Fire as the album title?
I just love that as an image and as an album title, too. Once the song itself was written we put a few ideas into the bag and that was the most popular.
Is there a lyrical theme or thread running through the album?
No, not so much. There are songs that are loosely in the same stable like “Golem” and “Deep State.” They share some of the same landscape and imagery. Also “Killing the King,” I think, but there are a number of different themes going on here. I am not sure there is an overarching one, however.
Did you struggle with song order at all?
That is always important to me. I grew up in a time when the LP was king. You had two sides to play, a good couple of beers or your own intoxicant of choice should leave you hungry to turn that vinyl over to the other side and continue the journey. For me, Pink Floyd, Sabbath and Bowie were important as album writers, compelling the narrative and understanding the nature of texture in music. I would love to make an immersive musical experience one of these days.
How has the band’s sound evolved/progressed from your debut?
I think Jon and Andy have brought their own thing to this. Away also has had more opportunity to set the pace and tone of the songs. It is promising. We try to keep things pretty democratic and often just trust in the process and whatever each person brings to the table, so it can be a surprise how the songs turn out in the end, too.
What are your goals/expectations for the record?
I don’t think we actually expected to be writing a new LP so soon. It kind of snuck up on us. Before we knew it we had 14 new songs, and what can you do? I suppose it is reassuring too that Tau Cross have very much established our own patch. We have a sound and approach which does not seem to be quite like anyone else. That is a great thing.
Tau Cross has been called a “supergroup.” What’s your take on that moniker?
I think most of us came from a punk rock background that does not like people getting too inflated about their own importance, so “supergroup” is kind of funny considering we are just bozos, after all. I prefer the term “punk/metal collective,” but I doubt that sells so well. It sounds more like a manifesto.
You’ve released a couple of videos in advance of the album. How important are videos these days?
I don’t know. We have been lucky enough to have people get in touch an offer their services for very little money or free, which has really helped us to try and represent the music visually. Again, I think we need to take time to reflect and think about how we go on from here visually and musically. I have a lot of grand ideas but not really the means to achieve them at this point, but we will see what the future brings too.
You have some European tour dates coming up. Any plans for a North American run?
We played North America last year and also a couple of Canadian dates. I think we will go back and do the West Coast too when we can. The difficulty is always in getting everyone together in the same place, so shows will be a rarity, really.
With band members’ other obligations, is it challenging to schedule touring?
Oh yeah, very much. We all have a lot of stuff going on outside Tau Cross, so we really need to try and commit to three to four weeks of TC work a year in advance, often.
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
I am a Swordsmith (visit his website here) and still enjoy that work. I love motorcycles, hill walking, kayaking, beekeeping, gardening, the outdoors really.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I don’t have a rotation. I listen to some metal radio from time to time and sometimes find something that really piques my interest.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I hope we will meet up with a few more TC people when we tour Europe and Scandinavia in August, and that people will enjoy the journey as much as we are.
(interview published July 20, 2017)