Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life are very pleased to being you an interview with the instrumental post metal group, Tanjiir. Their debut record ‘Purnima’ will be released independently through all major digital storefronts and streaming platforms on July 19th, 2019. A record that we absolutely loved and you can read our review here.
1. Can you give us a little bit of history into the band? How you all met and how Tanjiir came about?
Joe: Alex and I met when we were playing in separate bands in the Chicago scene. I was playing guitar in a progressive metal band called Oceanwalker (featuring Max and Alex Damske from Warforged) and Alex was playing guitar in a fantastic instrumental band called Fathoms – we were actually introduced by a mutual friend of ours, Rob Drauden, who ended up mastering the record for us.
Both of our bands opened for the Contortionist on the Chicago stop of one of their tours and he and I connected on social media shortly afterwards and started arguing about hockey, and then not long afterwards we ended up becoming close friends. Both of us being musicians and songwriters, the natural decision was to start some sort of project which was actually closer to a progressive death metal sound than what we sound like now. That sort of fizzled out but not long afterwards we started writing again and came up with the material on Purnima.
2. What made you decide to be an instrumental band? Was the choice driven by the music or vice versa?
Joe: I don’t really think it was a conscious decision at the outset of the project but once we got to finishing these compositions it was a pretty easy decision to just leave them as instrumentals. We had toyed around briefly with the idea of including vocals on the songs but it just didn’t feel right.
3. It’s an unusual name. Random name generator? Or does it have deeper meaning?
Joe: I was up late one night and watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, specifically the episode where he visits the Moroccan city of Tangier. The history of the city as a bit of a refuge for American ex-pats, counter-culturalists and beatniks combined with the clash of the city’s ancient history and progression into the modern era struck a chord with me, so I wanted to use it as the name for the project pretty much immediately. The alternate spelling serves two purposes: search engine optimization primarily, because searching “Tangier” on Google is predictably going to give you a truckload of results about the city iself. The secondary purpose is just that it’s simply more stylized and cooler looking. It’s easier to make into a striking logo.
4. Your debut album ‘Purnima’ is out on July 19th! How excited are you? It’s a phenomenal release.
Joe: Thank you! We’re definitely excited to finally get this out, mostly because the material is so old at this point. The bulk of it was written back in 2015 but “Against the Backbone of Night” is even older, it dates back to 2013 – I had initially intended for it to be an Oceanwalker track until that project came to an indefinite hiatus shortly after I wrote it.
A huge part of the excitement for me personally in Purnima finally getting a release is that we have a good deal of material that has been written since that we’re very eager to share with everyone, but having this hanging over our heads for the past few years has put the plans for that material on hold. Now that it’s done, hopefully we can move forward at a healthier pace with the rest of our material.
5. It has taken a lot of time and work to get to this point, was there ever a point you considered just throwing the towel in?
Joe: Absolutely not. Alex and I had a lot of major life events occur since we initially put the record together; I met my wonderful girlfriend Mandie, moved twice, started a new career, lost two members of my immediate family, adopted pets, etc. Alex started a new career, moved in with his girlfriend Sarah (who is now our drummer), lost relatives, etc. We had two lineup changes, we re-recorded the guitars probably 3 or 4 times because we were either poorly organized or just weren’t happy with how it turned out. We’ve had periods of extreme burn out due to that fact that we both work 40 hours a week, usually more. Even with all of that happening, there was never a point where we even thought about saying “fuck this, we’re done”.
Alex: There’s not really a point to stopping because it’s honestly very relaxed and therapeutic. We just go at our own pace and have fun.
6. What (if anything) inspired the making of the album?
Joe: If there’s a central theme to this album it’s stagnation, frustration and catharsis. This was written during a period in our lives where Alex and I were both still living with our parents as mid-20 somethings and extremely displeased with the jobs we were working at the time. So it sounds like a big time cliche but this album really was a release for us, and being able to dump all of our frustrations into our music was incredibly beneficial and healthy for us.
7. It’s near impossible to make a career out of music nowadays thanks to the rise of streaming/YouTube. Is this something that has affected you or has having the platforms to get your music out there been more beneficial?
Joe: I’ve got some mixed feelings about this because historically, only bands that have sold millions of records are getting hit hard by piracy or streaming or what have you. The majority of working bands have always made their money from touring and merchandise sales which aren’t going away anytime soon. I know that’s a gross oversimplifcation of the music industry because even for bands on small labels, record sales still factor in to how they do business but as a DIY/hobbyist band, I think the average person having more access to music is actually a benefit. We’re not really planning on making a career out of our music. If it does happen by some miracle then we would obviously embrace it but right now our plan is to just get our music heard and any financial benefits that coincide with it are just a bonus – that’s why Purnima is available on our bandcamp page for free.
8. Do you enjoy playing live? What plans do you have regarding that in 2019?
Joe: We definitely love playing live, and it’s something that we unfortunately don’t do enough due to conflicting schedules within the band but we’re planning on doing some sort of record release show in Chicago probably around the end of this summer.
9. What bands would make up your dream tour?
Joe: Oh man, personally I’d love to hop on as main support for one of the Ocean’s US tours but barring that probably just a short regional run with some of our friends here in Chicago. The local scene here is bursting with talent and might be the best it’s been since I can remember.
Alex: My dream tour would be us and Late. (fellow Chicago post-metal brethren) doing support for someone along the lines of Pelican.
10. What does the future hold for Tanjiir?
Joe: The plan right now is to record and release a single for a new song called “Shift” by the end of the year. We’ve also got the bulk of material for our second album already finished so ideally we’d like to get that out either next year or the year after but considering our track record so far, releasing it before 2023 would be staying ahead of the curve.