I first stumbled across Brendan’s youtube channel , when listening to Boss HM2 demos. It was his play-through video of Black Breathe’s Black Sin (Spit on the Cross) that caught my attention. By pure chance, he hit AA up for a custom HM2/TS-9 Build with a Doom Guy themed artwork. He went on to later produce product demos for AA, including the Chainsaw Modified HMT-2 Metalzone.
Fast Forward to 2016, outside of his guitar duties in Sydney’s DUMBSAINT, he has released a monster debut album as a one man band… under the moniker CONVULSING and hes taken some time out to provide some insights and chat gear.
Fans of progressive death/blackened metal…put “Errata” on your playlist.
What was the inspiration behind writing “Errata”?
It’s been a pretty weird series of events for me over the last 12-18 months, personally and professionally. The big one was losing my Grandmother in October last year; she was directly responsible for my interest in music as a whole. That and various other tiresome things made me realise that I was wasting my life and my time not doing anything, or doing the same old shit. Dumbsaint proper has been on a bit of a simmer recently because of newborn babies, international holidays, and other passion projects, so I thought I’d take advantage of the time before we boil that back up again to address the discomfort and turn it into… something… And here we are.
Can you describe your approach to songwriting — how do you decide which riffs good and which are bad?
There’s nothing on “Errata” older than December 2015; it was sporadic between then and about a week before the release (Nov 26 2016). I listen to a stupid amount of music and retain it really well (a curse), so generally all it takes for me to decide what’s good is if I immediately recognise it as a rip-off of something I like or not. After that, I just compulsively listen to demos over and over. If I’m not sick of it after a decent length of time, we’re good to go. I threw away two/three songs that could have gone on because I either got sick of them, or they didn’t feel right in contrast to the others. I did harvest riffs from one to write the last track, and lyrics from another. As far as actually composing; I used to wait for inspiration, but I’ve realised that’s foolish. The real way to make art is to grab it and not let go.
Bonus points for including an old school Porcupine Tree cover
Any reasoning behind this?
Steven Wilson and PT are an enormous influence on how I approach music, both playing it and producing it. The earlier psych-rock part of the discography tends to get overlooked in favour of later albums like In Absentia or Deadwing, but there’s so much gold to be found in there. Go look for Voyage 34 to see what I mean. I was gearing up to re-record all the guitars for Invocat (track 6) a few weeks ago, started playing the chord progression while I checked input levels, and 3 hours later I’d recorded a cover. Seemed to fit the theme and flow of the album, so I put it in there for fun. Also, it’ll be a nice little surprise to people with similar tastes to me, I guess 🙂
First album you purchased ?
Serious answer: Big Willie Style, on cassette. (My initials are also BWS, weirdly). I’m still in love with good Hip Hop even now, and that Will Smith record was my gateway to it all. I must have been about 6 years old. Next one after that was a Sisqo record, I think? Then nothing for ages, then Slipknot – Iowa. Don’t tell anyone.
How and why did you first pick up the guitar?
I used to play woodwind in a concert band when I was a kid, maybe 10 or 11, but I quickly realised the only place for it in Rock was Jethro Tull or Spyro Gyra. I also got into writing IDM/Trance thanks to a demo CD of FL Studio 3.6. Simultaneous to all that I started getting into nu-metal (Iowa is a properly heavy album, guys), and then quickly Carcass, Cannibal Corpse, Edge Of Sanity, Necrophagist. I just wanted to play those riffs, so I bought a cheap blue nylon guitar and tuned it to Drop D. First real electric was a red Aria Strat, and I played the shit out of it until I needed 24 frets for John Petrucci solos (In The Name Of God!). No lessons, just trying to play the music that I loved. There have been too many to count since then. I’m a bit gear obsessed…
What kind of attributes do you look for when choosing an electric guitar
I’ll keep it short: Thin, flatter radius necks, seven strings preferably, low/medium output passive pickups, no paint, no gloss. My go to is a custom shop Mayones Regius 7, but “Errata” was entirely recorded with a beat-up Ibanez RG7421 because I tune the Regius up to F Standard for Dumbsaint and couldn’t be bothered to keep changing it back. I’ve also recently been getting into Aluminium necked guitars (usually only 6, unfortunately), and I have an insane project with Anthony of Harvester Guitars in Melbourne lined up that’ll hopefully turn some heads. I’ve also got a headless Ormsby on the horizon… That wasn’t short, was it?
Tone-wise, what was your recording setup like?
Humid Bedroom in Penrith, NSW. Guitar -> Board -> Traynor YCS90 crunch channel -> SM57/e606 -> Focusrite Saffire Pro40 -> REAPER. Guitars are pretty much an AA TS9 through the model feT, or driving the crunch channel of the amp, nothing else. Also a little Modified MT-2 in parts, but mostly just that. Most of what’s on the board in the picture didn’t get used at all, it was just easier to use the show board. Bass was a Kramer 450B into an XORAT (a Ruetz RAT with a bass freq. crossover made by my buddy James of half/cut) into a Sunn Beta Bass -> Line out -> DI’d and cab simulated. Drums were meticulously MIDI/piano-roll programmed in REAPER using a software sampler, often purposely out of time to make it sound less robotic. Mixed and mastered in the box. Way less complicated than it sounds, really.
Any plans to get some musicians together and recreate the songs from “Errata” live?
There are no current plans to perform Convulsing stuff live, mostly because I have Dumbsaint to scratch that itch. I’ll never say never. Drums will be the killer; all the people I know who’d be able to do it are either in other bands or wrapped up with young families, and almost all out of state. If anybody reading this wants to play my dumb songs, get in touch!
Now that “Errata” has been released, what next?
My role in Dumbsaint is back on the boil now that I’m done with this. We’re heading to Europe for some fun at the start of next year, and writing currently for another release to happen before we head over. That’ll occupy me enough, I think. After that? We’ll see.
Give us your best “wtf” live show experience…
I haven’t really had any bad ones except for Bigsound last year, but I won’t go into that as it was with Dumbsaint and it’s kind of boring (wrong amps, wrong venue, errors with the film playback). The real “WTF”s have been the people I’ve had the privilege to meet and play with lately. Katatonia next week! Crazy.
Thanks for taking the time to give us your insights!
No problem J, happy to do it. I owe a lot of inspiration to you, and the few things of yours that I own are constant staples in my playing.
You can check out Brendan and Convulsing by visiting
Also be sure to head to http://dumbsaint.net/ and get stuck into “Panorama, in ten pieces.”
Brendans Custom “Doom Guy” HM2/TS9 2in1