Darkness, light. Silence, deafening volume. Intuition, intellect. In art, the balance between such contrasts has to be just right. Too stark, and things clash. Not enough, and the work is bland. But when the contrasting forces complement one another as well as guitarists Rory Kay and David Mena Ferrer of In Search of Sun, the creative outlook carries great potential.
Over the last three years, Kay, Ferrer, singer Adam Leader, bassist Faz Couri, and drummer Sean Gorman have worked relentlessly to forge a distinct musical identity. After releasing an EP under the name Driven, the band rechristened itself for the full-length debut The World Is Yours, ahard-rocking rollercoaster full of fluid leads, slamming riffs juxtaposed against plinking, cleanly compressed echoes, and a host of diverse tonal textures—often within a single song. Kay and Ferrer approach their playing and writing from very different mindsets, but their contrasting styles dovetail perfectly on ruthless power riffs, intricate high-speed patterns, and moments of austere beauty.
Roommates as well as bandmates, Ferrer and Kay were in their London flat watching Barcelona play Ajax in a UEFA Champions League match when we connected on Skype—an hour early because I’d screwed up the time. Undaunted, they shut off the TV, grabbed a couple of beers, and cheerfully demonstrated that their accommodating skill sets work as well in conversation as they do on the fretboard.
How did the songs on The World Is Yours develop?
Rory Kay: Most of the songs pretty much started with Dave and me. One of us would be playing a riff and the other one would just play something completely different, and we’d go, “Hold on, there’s some kind of magic happening there.”
David Mena Ferrer: But just because we’re the guitarists doesn’t mean we write all the guitar parts. I could write a vocal line, just as Adam could write a guitar riff. Everyone does everything, so we can get the best out of a song.
It seems like some of these tunes could work in other styles, not just metal. How have you developed as songwriters?
Kay: The EP we did as Driven felt more like a collection of riffs. For this album, it was more like, “This is what’s best for the song” and trying to get the bigger picture across.
Ferrer: “The Eyes Behind I” was kind of influenced by [Dutch DJ] Tiësto and trance music. I listen to quite a bit of trance and get influenced by the repetitiveness of that one line over and over again. If you're in a club, people just want to hear that line over and over again.
Kay: Now we’re even more influenced by that stuff, with what we’re writing at the moment. We come up with a riff, and people are, like, “That’s Daft Punk, man!”
Ferrer: We’ve already got five or six tracks [for the next album]. They’re not finished, but the ideas are there.
Photo by Malcolm Hynds.
How do your arrangements come together?
Kay: We do a lot of pre-production—we’re always recording. We’ll put the guitars into the Mac, and then someone will program some drums to see if it flows as a song. We might jam it in the studio, or one of us might jam with Faz. We keep adding parts. Vocals are
Ferrer: Even with the vocals, we’ve been constantly doing preproduction. We had a year-and-a-half to work on [the album]. We constantly worked on the songs to make them better
So you aren’t of the “Write it, play it, print it” school?
Kay: We never really finish a song straight away. There would be countless vocal lines being put online for us to listen to. The song “51 56” had 40 vocal lines!
Ferrer: For about eight months, Adam and I worked together [at the same day job]. And all we would do during breaks would be to sit in his car, put the Mac on, and be like “Right: Vocal lines! Vocal lines!”—just every day for, like, six months.
Kay: I’d be at work and get a phone call, and it would be them. They’d put the phone up to the Mac, and I wouldn’t be able to hear it! [Laughs.]
Ferrer: I remember coming up with the chorus for “51 56.” We were in my car outside Adam’s house until like five in the morning, and we finally came up with it. He went and recorded it in some car park nearby, came back to my house at six, and got me out of bed. I went downstairs and put the headphones on, and we were just smiling. We just couldn’t stop listening to it for months.
Wait—he recorded the vocal in the car?
Kay: Yelling into his Mac! We all went to the car park once. It was outside a doctor’s office, and we’d see some doctor poking his head out the window. For a while, Adam made us get out of the car—he didn’t like singing in front of us—so it would be three dudes standing outside of the car and there’d be this guy inside going “AAAAAARRRRRRRHHHHH!”
Did you record final parts as a group in the studio?
Kay: We didn’t record as a band. There wasn’t space in the studio for that. For the album itself, drums were first: Sean would record to a detailed guide track, bass next, guitars, and then vocals at the end.