Interview: Misha Mansoor of Periphery
“It fucking sucks. Everyone should burn their copy, and if it’s on their phone they should burn that too,” jokes Misha Mansoor, guitarist and vocalist for Periphery, when asked how he feels about their most recent album Periphery III: Select Difficulty. “I think it set a lot of landmarks about how we feel about something that we worked on collectively and individually,” he continues. “It’s mine and everyone’s favourite Periphery album. It was the best experience for us as a band, and the material has been received really well live – surprisingly well, actually – which was very encouraging because you never really know how it’s going to go down until you start playing it. It’s the kind of thing that can sometimes make you feel a bit poorly about stuff you worked on if they don’t like it [laughs].”
Despite the positive internal feelings about the album, Mansoor concedes that human nature inevitably gets the better of them when reflecting on past releases.
“Always,” he exclaims. “But I would say it’s gotten to us less and less with every album. We were talking about potentially doing a vinyl re-release of Periphery I and I had to listen to the masters, which was tedious [laughs]. I haven’t listened to that album in years, and in some ways. it was like, ‘Wow, there’s some cool songs on this,’ but in others there was a feeling that they wouldn’t fit today. I’d say that with each album, we’ve refined our process to where there’s been less regret. And the thing I should be clear about here is that the things I would fix are sort of like life lessons – things that you learn by growing. We did the best we could at that point of time, and then we learned things and couldn’t wait to work on the next thing and apply all that knowledge, which is what I mean when I say we’ve refined our process. The things that bother me about Periphery III aren’t things that are really significant, they’re just little things. They are things that probably no-one else would hear or notice.”
When measuring the success of an album, Mansoor says things like record sales and critical acclaim are not the main barometers, with the band maintaining it as more of a personal thing.
“Our fanbase in Australia has always been loyal and energetic, which is a wonderful combination.”
“I think the main thing is generally how we feel about it,” he explains. “I’m so stubborn, regardless of what everyone else is saying. If I feel a certain way about something, that’s how it is – that can be both bad and good. If I feel like something sucks and everyone else thinks it’s amazing, it won’t matter. I’ll always think it sucks, and vice versa. That’s why we’ve always said we should write the kind of music that makes us happy, because it won’t really matter what other people say. I will say that when it comes to the live show, we try to play the stuff that is well received because we like energetic shows and ones where you can tell people are having a good time – that’s a different kind of measure. There are songs that work well on the record but don’t necessarily work well live. That might not be the fault of the song itself, but in that live context, they just don’t work.”
One thing Periphery have staked their career on is their musical flexibility, and again, Mansoor says it is more about trusting in yourself and keeping an open vision rather than working to a formula.
“It’s funny, because it’s not something that we really think about,” he offers. “We approach it from a place that sort of leads to that point, if that makes sense. It’s more a case of ‘anything goes’, and if we think something sounds good, then cool, it’s Periphery. We have a creative freedom, and I think one day we all realised that when we work together, we tend to sound like Periphery regardless of whatever direction we’re pushing.”
Having multiple guitarists in a band can be a difficult assignment, but as one of Periphery’s three axemen, Mansoor says it is also a vital component of their sound.
“From our perspective, I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he maintains. “Writing with Jake Bowen and Mark Holcomb is just… I can’t even imagine doing it without them. It’s such a large part of what we do, and our chemistry is so locked in. It’s so easy and great to work with them. We’re all on the same wavelength, but think about things in our own ways. When those two write a really awesome riff, I wish I had written that because it’s entirely in line with the stuff I like, but I would never have written it myself. That’s a gift right there, as far as I’m concerned, and I have two of them so I am blessed.”
With Periphery set for an Australian tour in February, Mansoor offers little in the way of insight.
“You can definitely expect us to probably turn up to the show,” he laughs. “A couple of us will have a few drinks and after that I can’t make any guarantees [laughs]. Australia is really one of the best places to play music in my opinion,” he continues, his sincerity returning. “Our fanbase in Australia has always been loyal and energetic, which is a wonderful combination. It’s gonna be an awesome time, I just know it.”
Periphery / Circles / Polaris
Thursday February 2nd – Max Watts, Brisbane (18+)
Friday February 3rd – Metro Theatre, Sydney (18+)
Sunday February 5th – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)
Tuesday February 7th – Fowlers, Adelaide (18+)
Thursday February 9th – Capitol, Perth (18+)*
* – Chaos Divine replacing Circles