Chaos, Disorder, and Innovation: Meet THE ARUSHA ACCORD
During the mid-to-late 2000s, The Arusha Accord were tipped as the more than worthy successors to SikTh. Both tech-metal outfits employed hectic bass-driven grooves, intricate instrumental parts, and pairs of hyperactive vocalists, and both acts apparently set out to beat listeners to within an inch of their lives. Then SikTh split in 2008, The Arusha Accord dropped The Echo Verses almost a year and a half later, and tech fans showed their appreciation by raving about songs like the now-classic “Dead to Me”.
As respected and praised as The Arusha Accord were, their own internal issues would eventually lead to an extended period of inactivity. “It got to about 2011, and financially we just weren’t sustainable as a band,” says vocalist Paul Green. “Simple as that. We were really struggling to hit that next level, we weren't making cash, we were doing it full-time, and we started to separate into doing a little bit of work outside of the band, just to earn money.”
“You've got this whole part of yourself where you want to be achieving things, just for self-worth,” Green continues. “Luke [Williams, bass] went to university, and I went back to trying to earn a living. It was a sad time, but I genuinely think it was the right decision. [We got] to a point where we were putting so much pressure on the music to make it, to make us money and all that stuff, and you start to really not enjoy it.”
Speaking to Metal Injection seven years after The Arusha Accord first went on hiatus, Green speaks his truth in a measured, mature, and matter-of-fact manner. Still, it’s impossible to continue our conversation without probing some sensitive subjects. Even after reuniting in 2017, behind-the-scenes problems threatened to rip the band apart.
“The bad stuff kicked off just before our first show back [on June 30, 2017], and it was really awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved. It was the same at Tech-Fest [a week later]. I enjoyed the show, but there was so much going on that we couldn't really enjoy it [as a group].”
The “bad stuff” to which Green refers involves “irreconcilable” clashes between Luke Williams – who remains in The Arusha Accord – and second vocalist Alex Green (no relation), who does not. “We don't want to drag it out any longer [by talking about it],” Paul says, “but that's all happened and it's done.”
By the time Alex Green departed, The Arusha Accord had begun working on new music – and industry types were already interested. At that point, the band’s problems really started piling up. “We had a record deal on the table, and because of the situation with Alex and Luke, we couldn't commit to anything. We didn't know what was going to happen with the band, so we had to pull out,” says Paul. “We had to pluck all this money from nowhere to pay for it, [and] you’re talking about substantial amounts of money when it comes to recording. It was an absolute nightmare.”
Alex Green would not be the only member of The Arusha Accord to depart during the band’s dark night of the soul, but guitarist Tom Hollings left in less acrimonious circumstances. “[Tom has] a young family, so for him, he has to make money out of music,” Paul states. “He’s [working in] songwriting and production for EDM and pop acts. Completely different, but he's doing really well out of it.”
“He might come back in the future, but for the time being, it's more important for him to have a career in music. And it's more important for me that he's enjoying doing what he's doing,” Paul says emphatically. “He's a good friend of ours, and there's no love lost there at all.”
After so much drama, the title of The Arusha Accord’s latest EP makes perfect sense. “Juracán is the phonetic term for a South American deity of chaos and disorder,” Green explains. “We went through a massive struggle getting this one out, and we wanted to represent that in the title. It works well, I think.”
It does indeed – and Juracán also happens to be one of the most innovative tech-metal releases of 2018. Green cites Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Karnivool, Tesseract, Architects, Tool, and Protest The Hero as key influences, although you could also add The Dillinger Escape Plan, Dream Theater, Between The Buried And Me, and of course SikTh to the melting pot as well. On Juracán, The Arusha Accord have already started to mutate and update their signature style – and there are some incredibly exciting developments on the horizon. Juracán is just the first of four EPs, and Green quickly gets excited as he leaves the past behind and begins pondering the future.
“It's 20 tracks of music in total, and I think we're going to call the next EP Petrichor, because it's like the calm after the storm. It’s pretty much done in terms of the writing, so it's all about refining now. I'm also pretty sure that [Petrichor] will have a full orchestral song. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, because it's not metal and it's not super heavy or anything, but it's frickin' well-written,” Green asserts, before explaining the story behind forthcoming heavy song “The Alchemist”.
“The last ten years or so, when I've had a lot of stress in life, I've had some issues with anxiety,” Green says with some trepidation. “Not extreme, but I was away on holiday, and I think sometimes the stress hits you when you relax, and you don't realize how stressful life's been. I think a lot of it was around the release of this EP, because I'd been basically doing the whole process myself, and I just had an anxiety attack out of nowhere.”
“It's such a weird one, because I've never seen myself as being that person or being in that boat. [But] these occasional things have happened, and stupidly, it's always been because of music! The thing you should be enjoying the most has put so much pressure on me at times, and I'm kind of not surprised it happened, because over the last year I'd been through so much stuff. And although at that time I was so on edge with everything, it didn't hit me until I actually let my body rest.”
Green’s symptoms perfectly describe what medical professionals refer to as “the let-down effect,” in which physical and psychological problems manifest after a prolonged period of stress finally gives way to relaxation and relief. With any luck, he won’t have to deal with it again any time soon. Green certainly seems optimistic about the journey ahead.
“Talking to Luke and [James Clayton, guitar], everyone in the band feels the third EP is the best of them all. Juracán is the weakest one. The next EP will be a step up, but a couple of tracks on the third one are literally going to blow people away, to the point where I really hope it puts the series on the map.”
Despite their difficulties, The Arusha Accord have never let their standards slip. If Juracán really is a mere taste of things to come, we have a hell of a lot to look forward to – and anyone currently sleeping on this band will end up privately kicking themselves, while publicly pretending that they were fully engaged from day one. Consider this feature a wakeup call, listen to Juracán, and get involved immediately.