Distinguisher’s bludgeoning approach to metalcore, inflected with electronics and nu metal, has set them as potential players in their Las Vegas hometown since their debut release 'What’s Left of Us' in 2017, but returning now with new single 'Nothing is Real' seems like their sound has never been more ready to break.
Attached to a video emanating bleakness and internal torment in a big way, the track is an effortless execution of its core ideals, breaking out into unexpected hooks, tempo changes, and warped instrumental assaults at any given moment. We spoke to drummer Jake Barsoum about building to this as an independent band with a point to prove.
This is your first release in two years. How much time has gone into shaping up these songs to be a step up for you guys, and how important do you feel this release is for you?
“Nothing Is Real” was written almost exactly one year ago this week. Right around when the world initially shut down, this was the first of many tracks that we were able to create while isolating and while it was painful to not be able to tour and feel like we could actually be a band, we’re incredibly thankful for the downtime it provided and for what turned out to be some of our favorite and most personal material to date. This release is so important to all of us because we spent so much time experimenting with new things instrumentally, lyrically, and even vocally. To go one step further, being able to cultivate a brand-new theme visually that captures what we want to portray from the music has been so rewarding. This time around, there’ve been no labels, no rules, no limits, which has made this the most natural writing process thus far.
How has creation like this in 2020/2021 been for an independent band?
Being completely honest, we didn’t realize what a gift it would be to have an open schedule to be able to create and perfect our next release. And even though we were able to view it as a blessing in disguise, not knowing when we’re able to tour next has been one of the most excruciating things mentally. We miss feeling like we’re in the midst of it all, getting to experience the full impact of these new songs, which has always been extremely important to us. However, as far as how the creative process goes, watching other independent bands continue to push boundaries creatively during a time like this has been extremely helpful to our morale.
What are some of the inspiration points for your songwriting?
I think to a certain extent we will always reference our past music as a platform to learn and to continue to grow from. However, this release hasn’t been as heavily influenced by anything we’ve done in the past. With how natural and freeing this writing process has been, it’s led us back to our roots to bands like Slipknot, Architects, Northlane, Gojira, and Linkin Park, to name a few, who have collectively been huge influences for as long as we can remember. Each one of these bands has stood out in their own way and pioneered a unique sound for themselves, which is something we’ve always aimed for in our song writing.
There are a whole new breed of bands emerging playing metalcore and deathcore in an updated contemporary way. What is the work that goes into keeping the tricks fresh and surprising for the people?
I’d like to definitely go on record and say Distinguisher is not a deathcore band, but we will never stop pushing our boundaries as far as what we’re “supposed” to sound like. We draw influences from all over and we’re not afraid to push extremes with our lighter or heavier sides. “Nothing Is Real” happens to be one of the heavier ones, but we’ll always be a band that continues to evolve our sound with every record. With this mindset, it makes it easy to stay genuine to who we are as musicians; four kids from Vegas, all with different upbringings but a shared love for heavy music. As far as surprising the people, we usually find that anything new we try that we think is cool and worth sharing will also be accepted by the people who listen to our band. Or challenging people to shotgun beers with us after the show; that seems to work too.
What about the balance of brutality and atmospherics? Do you feel like bands like yourselves are more open to playing with sonic manipulation in a track?
Absolutely, that’s an element you can always expect from us going forward. As far as finding the right balance, it ultimately depends on the vibe you’re going for. We personally enjoy being able to manipulate our music in a way that can be undeniably heavy and yet still maintain a great deal of emotion. It’s been refreshing to see more and more bands continue to break barriers like this in heavy music.
It is in your name so we’ve got to ask, what is it you feel that distinguishes your band?
I can’t even lie; this is a question I’ve been wanting to answer for years. Distinguisher has always been so much more than just the music; it’s an extension of who we are as people. When we’re getting ready to go onstage, whether we’re playing in front of 10 people or 1,000 people, it feels like we’re playing the biggest show of our lives. It’s never been about anything more than connecting with each and every person that’s given our music a chance, and we’d like to think that continuing to be our genuine selves, in the long run, will ultimately set us apart from the pack.
Is this song a reflective precursor for a release you have coming up the pipeline?
The short answer is yes, after writing a full length’s worth of material throughout all of last year, it’s safe to say we’re prepared and excited to put out new music. Let’s just say it could be sooner than you think.
Stream the premiere of Distinguisher's "Nothing Is Real' below.